Transgender rights in Pakistan

There’s a brief and fascinating report (here, and more here) on the hijra of Pakistan – transgender people who have been marginalised but ‘tolerated’. Apparently, a number of pieces of recent legislation have been passed to affirm their civil rights – and under consideration is the move of including a third gender on official documentation.

Spurred by the forceful chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who was restored after countrywide protests last year, normally moribund authorities have been ordered to ensure hijras enjoy the same rights as other Pakistanis, in matters of inheritance, employment and election registration.

Police have been warned to cease harassment and intimidation. Pakistan’s national database and registration authority, which issues ID cards, has been told to research a third option under the “sex” column.

“Times are changing,” said Almas Bobby, leader of one of the largest group of hijras in Rawalpindi. “Our community feels good for the first time in 60 years.”

These changes, apparently, were instigated by lawyer and Islamic scholar Muhammed Aslam Khaki who took up the defence of their rights having read about the brutal treatment to which hijra were vulnerable .