KARACHI: Scores of transgender persons protested the Sindh government's ban on beggary and shouted slogans outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Wednesday demanding the reservation of at least 2% quota in public sector employment.
The protest was led by the Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) President Bindiya Rana and member Zehrish Khan. GIA is an organisation that works for the welfare of transgender persons in Karachi.
There are 10,418 transgender persons in Pakistan, according to the census conducted in 2017, and 24% of them reside in Sindh, primarily in Karachi. As many as 2,527 transgender persons in Sindh are those who have not revealed their identity as yet while human rights worker Akhtar Baloch says that a large number of transgender persons in Karachi haven't revealed their identity either.
Most of the transgender persons in Karachi are seen begging on the roads and markets or entertaining people in private programmes. The recent ban imposed by the Sindh government on beggary is halting the transgender persons' livelihoods as it is their primary source of earning.
Zehrish Khan - an active member of GIA and a graduate in Project Management from the University of Management & Technology (UMT), Lahore - while talking to The Express Tribune, said that there is no option for the transgender persons to earn their living except for begging and dancing in parties. There were no jobs for them in the government sector, she said, adding that the government's restriction on beggary has now made the lives of transgender persons more difficult than it already was. "Where will the transgender persons go in such a situation?" she questioned. A very small number of transgender persons are educated and the government is not ready to provide employment to them as well, she said and demanded that a solution to this problem needs to be made by providing technical education to the transgender persons and assigning a quota for them in government jobs.
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One of the protesting transgender persons, Chandni Khan, was amongst those who were arrested by the police some days ago. She said that the police officials collected bribe from them and if they refused, would often torture them.
GIA President Bindiya Rana said that the government should focus on protection of transgender persons' rights instead of making laws against beggary. "Seats in government employment should be reserved for the transgender community as well," she said adding "We aren't in favour of beggary. We also want freedom from this curse but the government should provide us employment opportunities first."
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The Sindh Cabinet had imposed restriction on child beggary in November last year after which the police carried out operations across the city against child beggars as well as transgender persons. On the other hand, Sindh Inspector-General of Police Dr Kaleem Imam had also made an announcement to give 5% employment to the transgender persons in the police department.
Information adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that the Pakistan Peoples Party government has always respected human rights hence the problems faced by transgender persons would be solved on priority basis. He further said that training was being provided to transgender persons in social welfare and technical education departments. The decision about the reservation of seats quota in public sector employment will be made soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2019.