A fresh injunction passed by the Peshawar High Court this week is the only hope that transgender community members can cling on to in the wake of expulsion threats from Mardan district. The decree also recommends the formation of a safety plan to shield transgender persons from harm in the district. In recent weeks, members of the transgender community had been asked by police authorities to leave their abodes and move out of the district. Apparently the law enforcers issued the threat after receiving complaints about their dancing and singing at public functions.
Since these activities are their main source of subsistence and the provincial authorities are unable to provide them any other alternatives on the job front, it is cruel to bar them from the district — more so, because they are bonafide residents of Mardan and are fully entitled to pursue their line of work.
Any complaints about them transgressing any regulations ought to be taken up with those who hire them in the first place. Filing criminal charges — one of the actions contemplated by the police — against them is unwarranted and shows a certain kind of high-handedness that law enforcers reserve for the weak and the helpless. A two-judge bench upheld the petition of transgender persons against their proposed eviction. The home secretary has been tasked to work out a safety plan for them. Such a plan would be consistent with measures taken by the government and the court over the past few years to recognise the rights of transgender persons. To be effective, however, police officials would have to adhere to the strictures laid down by the courts. They should also act when and where transgender persons face harassment and help restore their dignity in Mardan and other districts. This may take a long time though.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2018.
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