Throughout the evolution of history, societies fabricated themselves through awe-inspiring customs, rituals, religions and personal laws. The society makers accepted the versatility; this universe has in terms of human beings and incorporated all sections through the inspiration and prevalence of tolerance. At some edges of history, prejudice overruled integration and some group were sidelines by labeling their natural dissimilarity as defection.
History is brimful from such example. From Red Indians to Australian Aboriginals- legally and socially, some groups were suppressed to satisfy human kind’s greed for ascendency.
Transgender (s) is also a genus of society that has been living under siege of harsh social culture from last several centuries.
To unravel transgender condition in Pakistan, we have to go back in Asian history. In Sub continent, the situation was somehow not too bad. During Mughal Dynasties, transgender community was awarded titles and position in the Mughal “Darbars” or “Courts”. They had to have all social perks and privileges which were given to notable social class. The word “khawajsara” was actually a Mughal Title awarded to them. However, after the 1857 mutiny, when British strengthen their jaws on sub continent; a set of ideas was instigated to change the course of history and social behavior. In controversial 1871 Criminal Tribes Act, they lost royal status and were subjected to social degradation. This law actually considered them genetically criminal group (like some other tribes of India) & demanded their status surveillance.
Eventually, with the prevalence of British culture, norms and values; the roots of this law and resulted behavior became deeper and community that once had royal status, had to pitch on professions that further added insulted to their injured social status. It was the time, when transgender community members were pushed towards acts like dancing in streets on births. Throughout the British period, continues social boycott made them miserable and the “Hijrah” word turned out to be a social shame.
The culture of giving/selling transgender babies to transgender community leaders by families initiated in British period as presence of this creature was considered a social shame in society.
It is rightly said that in 1947, our bodies acquired independence not out minds. The way, British forged the rules of social interaction and respect; no one dared to touch them afterwards. Public attitude regarding transgender community sometimes invokes us compare them with the way, “Untouchables” or “Achoots” are treated in Indian society.
In Today’s Pakistan, transgender are sexually and verbally abused, people consider it a shame to interact with them and on social places and public transport, they have to face eyes full of hatred, disliking and amusement. As a popular culture, they operate under a Nom De Guerre like Shabnam, Cleopatra.
At state level, the doors of government and private jobs are closed, they are hardly seen in any education institute and their sole earning either comes from dancing or begging and in worse scenarios, they subject themselves for sexual pleasure. Their dysphoria could be well understood through the documentaries of their living spaces and the way, a “guru” or “transgender leader” deals with his adopted “khusra” or transgender. They are molested, beaten, put to personal prison for disobeying the order of gurus.
In past decades, state itself never dared to look towards this social disorder which actually negates its promise of human rights in 1973 constitution of Pakistan. Article 25 clearly says that there will be no discrimination on the basis of sex. This flaw of state responsibility was actually filled by Supreme Court in a decision of 2009. The apex court ordered the state to provide ID cards to khawjah saras as before that ID cards had to have just two categories Male & female. No government department offers them job while society hates them like nothing else.
Hundreds of cases of transgender murders couldn’t be concluded as bargaining with the Gurus hindered the investigation while as institution Police also did not pay attention to any criminal offence against them.
Social organizations are also prudent regarding voicing for their rights as this invites a criticism while the chances of being labeled as foreign agent operating under the agenda of west for promoting sexism in society, are already there.
The religious role here in crucial – it should be debated & publicized. Religion does not disregard transgender at any cost. It’s the British legacy, whose burden has resulted in this miserable condition. Anyone who discriminates them has to see Quran’s third Surah in which it is clearly written Allah is the “One who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases.”
A newly started organization “Mashal” in collaboration with USEFP and IREX has challenged the status quo of social organizational culture and organized an event that was specially designed for transgender.
The organization opted practical approach by indulging members of transgender community in dialogue rather than having a typical seminar in which political figures deliver written speeches. These types of activities actually provide chances to listen the affected sections for society as the cure is useless until the diagnoses. So we need to hear their voices for which Mashal has set relative and profound example and this newly started organization needs to be eulogized.
The dire need regarding the transgender community is to have a simple rather than extra ordinary approach as they are normal like us.
Without promoting tolerance and acceptance, people will carry the legacy of British occupiers and families shall abandon their own children.
Acceptance of their sexual behavior would not be a favor, it is which nature actually induces in them and any action by so called civilized society to outcast them shall be against the beauty of nature.
For the first time, country would know the exact number of transgender, after the result of 2017 census. So! After that how government responds of this admonished section of society, shall be worthy to note.
In 2008, Australian PM Kevin Rudd officially apologized to the aboriginal people and said for the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
So! There is no shame in acceptance of reality and as a state it’s time for Pakistan to apologize for mistreatment of this community.
Cover picture credits: @beamashal