Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009


  • “Some accept them, others hate them, many fear them, many are amazed by them, a few like them, many make fun of them, and no one invites them in. They are considered unclean, and only their lovers eat with them at the same table.
  • “Only a Hijra can understand another Hijra
  • Why don’t these idles do some job and labor?”

  • If u get a hijra birth in your home I’ll see how would you find him a job”, criticizing and commenting is the easiest job in the world. If I ask you to come forward and provide an opportunity for a job, you will not even offer me the minimum wage at your working place

  • “People don’t trust them because they are liars and robbers.”
  • When a person is starved for 2 days and nobody bothers to offer him a scrap of food how can you expect loyalty from him?”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


It is time that the government should take steps to protect the rights of eunuchs. According to one NGO, there are almost 45000 registered eunuchs in Lahore who are being provided assistance and opportunities that they can avail for a better survival. Under the Department of Health, the Government of Punjab has awarded an assignment to the consortium comprising of Contech international National Health Education Research & Resource Institute and Savior-Faire.

Project staff has registered 45000 eunuchs in Lahore working through Special Health centers and field work with the help of peer educators. In context of registration project staff has register 45000 eunuchs from all over the city.

Keeping in mind, the efforts being made by NGO’s in our society, the government should now take the initiative to provide schools for the eunuchs, so that these eunuchs have some basic education. Many of the eunuchs, who were part of our preliminary research, had primary education, while a few had even passed secondary school. Thus, it is all about providing them with opportunities that the eunuchs can avail. It is about time, the government recognizes the hijras as humans, provides them with basic necessities and education opportunities, so that eunuchs born with sexual deformities can avail education, learn how to read and write and can pursue their careers. This is the only way these eunuchs will not resort to illegal, inhumane activities like beggary and prostitution. Moreover, the government/ local administration should arrange stipends and monetary assistance to the poor and provide opportunities to the effected sections of the people. Those who are born with the sexual deformity should be provided either handsome financial help so that they could become acceptable in their own families and they should be given share/quota employment for the handicaps, enabling them to lead a normal life. Moreover, the government should devise ways to disseminate information regarding psychological problems related to sexual minorities and develop public awareness to handle the issue. The government should also develop programs to enhance and build up knowledge regarding AIDS/STDs to the masses and hijras as well. The government should arrange the medical assistance for affected individuals and enforce strict laws on auto-castration.

In short, it is evident that the government is not taking adequate steps, to put an end to the discrimination against eunuchs that has existed since ages. Given the pace of development in other phases of life, it is time, we recognize that this neglected group of people, are as equal

human beings as all of us and as deserving as any other individual. The government, instead of ignoring the increasing number of eunuchs should more actively approach to homosexuals and develop public awareness programs to handle the issue. This will not just reduce the level of illegal activities of prostitution in the country but raise the awareness levels of the public in general and the eunuchs, in particular. Also, such public awareness programs will help reduce the number of HIV infected people as precautionary measures are made familiar with the eunuchs. At the end, there should be complete record of born hijras on district levels. It is not just the work of a few NGO’s but the combined efforts of the government and the NGOs that will help address the issue of discrimination against eunuchs. A complete record of hijras is the initial and the most important step that should be undertaken, so that these hijras can either be provided financial help publicly to restrain them from falling in socially unacceptable activities or assign them quota in employment.

Even if it is impossible to completely end the discrimination against eunuchs, the government can play a major role in reducing the derogation against them, promoting their welfare, and working for their rights.


According to our research results there are only a few active NGO’s working for the rights of these hijras. Contech International Health Education Research Resource Institute (NHERRI) is one such institute working for the rehabilitation of hijras, providing them enough job opportunities and basic education so that they do not indulge in activities like beggary and prostitution. Although the program objectives of this NGO is to reduce the risk of HIV AIDS among MSM (men having sex with men), these also continue to register and provide services to newly registered hijras, and providing health education sessions.

It is interesting to note that the NGO’s are playing a very active role for the welfare of hijras. In recent years, various organizations have been formed o address HIV/AIDS awareness and human right issues. The Contech International Health Education Research Resource Institute (NHERRI) is on example but although efforts are being backed up or supported by government assistance. This is acting as a hindrance and threatens to curtail opportunities for hijras, increasing their dependence on prostitution. If a comparative analysis is undertaken, there are almost thrice the numbers of NGO’s working in India than in Pakistan along with government support.

In recent years organization such as the Dai Welfare Society and Hijras and Kalyan Sabha have been formed to address eunuch related issues a raise voice for their welfare. In India, some hijras have become involved I politics-in 2000 “Aunt” Shabnam Mausi was elected to her state legislature and Kama Jaan and Asha Devi were selected mayors of their towns. We are competing with our arch rivals India in every single phase of life, be it be at the economic front or the socio political front. Why is it then difficult for the government to compete with the front of India when it comes to the rights of the eunuchs? ‘We could have eunuchs as ministers, eunuchs in opposition, eunuchs as judges and even eunuchs as law enforcers’. Why is the gender discrimination still present in Pakistan? Unfortunately, the poor gender less people are ‘neglected’, ‘abhorred’, and considered a ‘burden’ on the society. ‘Their only fault is that they cannot prosecute’. We could all argue that a large majority of them is engaged in unlawful activities, but that is only because they are not given any recognition anywhere. There is no reason why eunuchs should not be given an opportunity to participating in politics. Therefore, the fault rests with the government. How many times has the government addressed the issue of deciding on the gender and fate of the eunuchs? Since ancient times, till today, according to old legal texts that are dealt with the third sex, eunuchs have no right to inherit property and, are not allowed to conduct sacrifices. The third sex has always been recognized by the people, the society and the government yet always discriminated. Consequently we have therefore, never come across a unisex public toilet or even a school where the eunuchs can avail education opportunities without being victims to ridicule and derogatory remarks. It is indeed unfortunate to see that eunuchs today a no place in our society. The only bit of efforts that are being made one being made by a handful of NGO’s and no steps being taken by the government at all.

Pakistani eunuchs have demanded that they be allowed to play a role in national politics, through reserved seats at all legislative forums, but the government has refused; saying eunuchs have the same status as any other citizen of the country.

“Eunuchs can get elected from any legislative forum like other citizens, because they neither belong to a minority nor are they considered females,” said government officials.

“The federal government has refused to reserve seats for eunuchs in national as well as provincial assemblies, and if eunuchs want o get involved in national politics, they should contest elections like other people,” said an Interior Ministry official. “Eunuchs are considered males in Pakistan, not females, at the time they are issued national identity cards,” he said, adding that therefore they could not be treated specially.

All Pakistan Eunuch’s Association (APEA) officials have demanded that the government reserve special seats for eunuchs at the national, provincial or district level in Pakistan’s history, but they have been elected councilors in few areas.

At an APEA convention at Kot Adu last month, eunuchs also demanded that dancing and singing be considered bachelors degrees and their sexual status be mentioned in national identity cards. NADRA refused to mention eunuchs’ sexual status in NIC’s, with one official, Nabeel Najam, saying, “If a normal citizen is referred to as a eunuch because of a printing error or some other mistake, there will be serious trouble for NADRA.” An office-bearer of the APEA, Sunny, said the government was not cooperating with eunuchs over these issues.

If the educated, English speaking class of the eunuchs, enlarging in Pakistan, can become fashion designers, hair stylists, decorators etc, why can’t the underprivileged be provided with educational facilities and equal opportunities. Universal declarations on human rights clearly hold that all human beings, irrespective of gender (among others such as race, caste, creed etc) are entitled to human rights. Yet the eunuchs are denied rights since decades.


The hijras in our society suffer discrimination at every level. There are sizeable hijra communities in Lahore divided into several clans. According to statistics provided by a non-government organization (NGO), Contech International Health Education Research Resource Institute, a total of 45000 registered eunuchs in Lahore, but census data on them does not exist, making accurate enumeration impossible they continue to persist as marginalized and secretive community. Although stereotypes about hijras are constantly recycled as “alienation-grabbing” headlines, little actually make any difference. It is not just the people but even government harbors a negative attitude towards them. This is evident from the inactive role that the government is playing.