K-P assembly votes to support rights for transgenders

Published: May 29, 2018
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Rights activists say adopting it on last day of legislative business is a little too late
PHOTO: EXPRESS

Rights activists say adopting it on last day of legislative business is a little too late PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Even as the province struggles with a high rate of violence against transgender people, its provincial assembly proved to be equally forward-looking by passing a resolution in support of their rights  in its penultimate session.

The resolution had been moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) Nighat Yasmeen Orkazai on Sunday.

Orkazai is one of the members of the National Task Force from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), constituted by the Wafaqi Mohtasib (Federal Ombudsman) for drafting the Transgender Rights Bill.

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After the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2018, by the National Assembly (NA) on May 8 this year, K-P has become the first province to adopt this legislation under article 144.

After the devolution of powers under the eighteenth amendment, the portfolio of human rights falls with the provincial legislature. Thus any legislation passed by the national assembly has to be adopted by the provinces under article 144 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973.

While speaking with The Express Tribune, Orkazai said the bill previously passed by the NA was only meant for the federal capital.

“Therefore it was necessary to move this resolution in the K-P assembly to take measures for protecting the rights of the transgender community in the province. No doubt it is one of the landmark achievements,” she said.

She added that K-P is one of the provinces which reports the highest number of human rights violations against transgender people.

“It is shocking to know that around 65 people who were transgender were killed in K-P over the past three years. And these are the cases which have been reported, the real number could be higher,” she lamented.

Meanwhile, according to local rights group TransAction Alliance, so far in 2018, as many as 53 cases of violence against people who are transgender have been reported from K-P, including a murder.

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The alliance says that over the past three years (from 2015 to 2017) a total of 1,131 cases of violence against people who are transgender have been reported in K-P, including 55 murders.

Of these, 42 people who are transgender were killed either by their boyfriends or partners while four were killed in the name of honour by their family in the conservative regions of Buner and Mardan.

“We welcome the resolution passed by the provincial assembly on the last day of legislative work in the K-P assembly, but we are disappointed at the same time that the same assembly has completely failed to improve the lives of people who are transgender in K-P despite making several promises,” said Farzana Jan, the president of TransAction Alliance.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2018.

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