For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a commissioner for transgender persons has been appointed at the Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat – the Federal Ombudsman of Pakistan – to redress the grievances of the community.
According to a notification issued on Friday, Wafaqi Mohtasib associate adviser Syeda Viquar-un-Nisa Hashmi has been appointed commissioner for transgender persons.
Responsibilities of Hashmi, who is also the commissioner for Children/Focal Person, will include promoting and protecting transgender persons, redressing their grievances based on complaints, as well as addressing systemic issues through consultations with key stakeholders, research and studies.
She will also be empowered for taking suo motu action with a prior written approval from the Federal Ombudsman of Pakistan, co-ordinating with the law enforcement agencies and making efforts for their welfare.
Hashmi said: “Currently in Pakistan the transgender community is facing immense issues in getting social acceptance, jobs, and identity among others.”
They were the ones who were being disowned by their families, she said, adding that throughout their life they faced harshness and hatred from the society just for being transgender.
“This attitude of the society has forced them to become professional dancers where they are also being sexually abused,” Hashmi added. “This platform will address transgender persons’ concerns keeping in mind their dignity, feelings and integrity.”
She highlighted the grave issues being faced by transgender persons across Pakistan.
“There are many transgender persons who are highly qualified but are unable to get a reputable job just because of who they are,” she said.
Many transgender men and women face numerous health issues but lack the courage to visit hospitals because they know that they would not be treated well, said Hashmi.
She also expressed reservations over the national census carried out last year, according to which Pakistan’s transgender population stands at 10,418 or 0.005% of the total population of more than 207mn.
“I believe there are many families in our country who are reluctant to disclose that their family member is a transgender person due to which, they are not counted,” she said.
Hashmi said that there is a dire need to sensitise people from all walks of like – especially in the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, media and health departments – to better understand the rights of transgender people and accord them respect.
“My aim is to provide an enabling environment to the transgender community where their families can proudly own them, they can get better job opportunities and they can move around with full dignity and respect,” she added.
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