Authorities in NW Pakistan to conduct census of transgender people

  • Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
  • Updated: Jun 16, 2016 15:45 IST
Pakistani transgender Paro (right) mourns the death of her colleague Alesha in Peshawar on May 25. Alesha was shot several times, allegedly by her boyfriend, who was later arrested. She died of her wounds three days after being admitted to hospital. Her friends said she was neglected by doctors and medical professionals, who taunted her, rather than treating her. (AP)

The government of Pakistan’s restive Khyber-Pakhtunkwa province has set aside funds in its annual budget for conducting a census of the transgender community, whose members have been the target of a string of brutal attacks.

Provincial finance minister Muzafar Said, who belongs to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, announced the allocation in the state assembly while presenting the budget for 2016-17.

The government said on Tuesday it will allocate Rs 200 million ($2 million) for the census and a separate housing scheme for transgender people. The minister said the government intends to set up special wards for transgenders in several hospitals of the province.

But the proposals were greeted with criticism by the community. Nadra Khan of the Shemale Association in Mansehra, where a transgender person was attacked last week, questioned the proposal to set up a rehabilitation center for the community.

“We do not need rehabilitation,” she said. “We need gainful employment and protection like any other citizen of the state.”

Others questioned the motive of the census and said such an exercise would be a waste of money since the government had already allowed them to be registered as transgenders on their national identity cards.

The proposal for special wards in hospitals, however, was welcomed. Transgender people have pressed authorities for equal treatment in hospitals and medical centers, which they say is consistently denied to them.

Last month, rights activist and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Trans-Action Alliance coordinator Alesha died because of delays in treatment at a public hospital after she was shot six times.

She succumbed to her injuries as doctors debated whether Alesha should be admitted as a man or a woman and who would treat her. The media coverage of the incident triggered a debate on the treatment of transgender people by Pakistani society.

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