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Submitted to:Maliha Zeb Khan Submitted by:Maryam Shakeel, wahib Abbas, Ahsen Nadeem BS(Social Science) semester 1 Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology Islamabad
The terms thirdgender and thirdsex describeindividuals who arecategorized (bytheir will or by socialconsensus) asneither man nor woman, as well as thesocial categorypresent in thosesocieties whorecognize three ormore genders.InPakistan, individualswho are born withsexual deformity areknown as hijras
Hijras of Pakistan have their history rooted back in Mughal reign asKhawjasaras. Khawjasaras were servants that were employed by Mughalrulers as care takers of their harems. They were potent in courts, stateaffairs and as confidantes of rulers. Their status deteriorated with thedevastation of princely rulers and finally fettered to begging. By then thehijras are considered social outcasts, existing in a strange, no man’s land.
In Pakistan the hijras live in groups (generally 4-12 members) headed by aGuru, normally the oldest.Most Pakistani cities have sizable hijras communities, divided into clan groupsliving mostly in ghettos and officiated over by a leader or guru. Thesecommunities are generally known as Chellas.
How they earn their livelihood in pakistan?The group earns livelihood by performing/dancing/singing in familyfunctions e.g. birthdays, marriages or child births. It is obligatory forhosts to pay Hijra in money, grain or other things. In central Punjab(Pakistan), hijra groups divide areas among themselves and onegroup may not interfere with anothers territory as it is consideredunethical
Most of people do not consideredthem hijras by birth. They believe thatthey are either men behaving likewomen (cross-dressers) or they arehomosexual. No doubt, it is true. Zafar(2004)corroborated that the numberof those born with sexual deformity inHijra community is as low as 1%. Bothhomosexuals and cross-dressers arecursed down upon in Islam. As it isdifficult to isolate a genuine hijra fromconverted one, people use to curseand look down upon whole hijracommunity. Moreover sex work andcertain behavioral patterns such assundering jokes, using disgustinglanguage and throwing vulgargesticulations, persuade aggravationresulting in people harboring negativeattitude towards them.
Rights of hijras in Pakistan are confined to vote/contest in elections.Otherwise they are victims of extreme social ostracism. They aredenied in families. They are neither acceptable at work places northey are allotted any quota in employment. They are also deprivedof opportunities to take education because of people’s attitudetowards them. More so they are also denied health andpsychological/ psychotherapeutic assistance.
Beside this, educated English speaking class of eunuch is enlargingin Pakistan. They do not face this treatment because of their socialand economic status in the society. They become fashiondesigners, interior decorators, hair stylists’ etc.
In June 2009, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered a census ofhijras, who number between 80,000 and 300,000 in Pakistan.InDecember 2009, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Chief Justiceof Pakistan, ordered that the National Database and RegistrationAuthority issue national identity cards to members of thecommunity showing their "distinct" gender. "Its the first time in the62-year history of Pakistan that such steps are being taken for ourwelfare", Almas Bobby, a hijra associations president, said toReuters. "Its a major step towards giving us respect and identity insociety. We are slowly getting respect in society. Now peoplerecognize that we are also human beings."
Reasons for becoming hijra or joining hijra community are varied.It is heeded that hijras earn livelihood relatively easily. Desperateand unemployed youth is attracted to hijra community to earnthis easy money. Secondly, ignorance toward psychologicalhealing of problems in most of the low class families led theirchildren to take shelter in the so-called safe haven of hijracommunity. Selling of children to hijra community due to povertyis yet another important reason for becoming hijra.
Reasons are obvious; solutions are obvious too. First of all, parentsshould be very careful about the children showing deviantbehavior. If a boy behaves in girlish manner, he should not beencouraged. Rather, should be taken to psychiatrist immediatelyfor necessary treatment. Secondly, parents should have an activeeye on the activities of their children reaching the age ofadolescence. They should check the company their children keep.Government should more actively approach to homosexuals anddevelop public awareness program to handle the issue. At theend, there should be complete record of born hijras on districtlevel. So that these hijras can either be provided financial helppublicly to restrain them from falling in socially unacceptableactivities or assigned them quota in employment.