'Punish' the eunuchs, because they are 'vulgar'

In a country where religious discrimination is routine, why should sexual orientation be treated any differently?

Muhammed Rafay Zafar June 19, 2012
We are most likely to get angry and excited in our opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to take the other side.

Apt words by Thomas Mann.

Life is hard for most Pakistani's but for those of us who are different - whether by accident or by choice - survival is certainly an achievement. The transgender community of Multan realised this recently when the ASWJ demanded that their members be punished for spreading vulgarity in society.

So now, an entire community is to be 'punished' for the sins, maybe, of a few?

What gross generalisation.

I wondered why this particular piece of news held my attention. In a country where religious discrimination is routine, why should sexual orientation be treated any differently?

Deviance can be defined as any behaviour that violates social norms, and is usually of sufficient severity to warrant disapproval from a major part of society. It can either be criminal or non-criminal. In their efforts to understand it, developed societies have ascertained a certain degree of tolerance towards non-criminal deviance.

There is a fair amount of consensus over the scientific worldview and individualism is the chief determinant of tolerance in any society. The question is whether it is a desirable goal in the context of the Pakistani society or not. Much as I hate neologism, the current trend of “tribalising” religious moral codes has set the society upon a course of rejection of all that doesn’t fit into our narrow criterion.

In order to comprehend the reaction of ASWJ, one must first try to understand what the 'Transgender Association' represents. The terms Hijra or Khusra have always been regarded as derogatory in our society. Without any knowledge of what subtypes comprise this group, they are stereotyped as unpleasant, undesirable, vulgar and a bit of a joke.

We completely disregard the fact that they include people born with gender anomalies. Majority of these people have no control over their behaviour and in a country like Pakistan where subjects like sex are taboo, many do not even give heed to their feelings.

While associating sexual promiscuity to the entire group is unfair, generalising them to be vulgar is downright inhumane.

When a society relegates particular groups to specific roles such as singing and dancing on celebratory occasions, I believe, it becomes condemnable by contemporary social standards.

According to the rulings of Islam, there are many examples where transgenders were protected. However, sexual promiscuity among the group was prohibited. So, the moral custodians of today who claim allegiance to the very tradition should reconsider their position on the subject because it seems that they are influenced by classical social attitudes rather than the doctrine.

At a time when the state has officially recognised the identity of transgender groups, would it not be prudent to reconsider our attitudes towards them as a society?

Is it fair to judge them on the basis of gender?

Is it justified to deprive them of the rights that they deserve?

It's time to think.

Follow Rafay on Twitter @mrafayzafar
Muhammed Rafay Zafar A consultant Neurosurgeon who graduated from Dow Medical College in 1986 and lives in Saudi Arabia now. He tweets @mrafayzafar
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