Pakistan’s transgender community is quite excited these days. The reason behind their excitement and happiness is the implementation of Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decision regarding their right to vote.
Earlier, transgender persons/eunuchs locally known as “hijras” did not enjoy the right to vote. It was only in November last year the country’s Supreme Court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to registers them as voters. According to the Express Tribune newspaper the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) was also directed by the apex court to expedite the procedure of issuing Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) to eunuchs.
It is pertinent to mention here that in April 2011, the Supreme Court had directed NADRA to issue CNICs for eunuchs as earlier Pakistani transsexuals were even facing extreme trouble in getting their identity cards because of gender identity issues.
These days NADRA offices are busy issuing CNICs to transgender countrymen for their subsequent registration as voters by the Election Commission. Reports about celebrations by transgender persons over being registered as voters are common in Pakistani media nowadays.
Pakistan Today reports:
The jubilant eunuchs also celebrated the historical moment by dancing and singing songs. They showed their enthusiasm at joining the mainstream population of voters and announced full participation in the coming general elections.
It is an unfortunate reality that transgender people face a lot of problems, socially as well as economically, in Pakistan. The very episode related to recognition of their right to vote clearly illustrates the kind of treatment the transgender community has been subject to over the years.
Concrete and authentic data about the total population of transgender persons in Pakistan is not available. However according to a Dawn newspaper report:
Estimates put the number of gender confused persons in the country between 80,000 and 300,000.