Published On: Fri, Sep 8th, 2017

Mainstreaming the disenfranchised groups

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Though still enough needs to be done to bring the transgender community into mainstream societal set up, yet in recent years some steps have been taken which are aimed at their inclusion in community. The recent NADRA’S policy revision for transgender people is a case in point.

In fact it is another sign that the trans community is well on its way to reclaiming the fundamental rights it has long been denied. The announcement demonstrates how policies and processes for marginalised groups ought to be – empathetic and accommodating, taking into account their life experiences and the systemic disadvantages they encounter. To that effect, the decision to allow those who have been abandoned by their biological parents to register under the guardianship of their guru is commendable.

So, too, is the decision to create three gender categories in addition to ‘male’ and ‘female’ – recognising the fact that gender lies on a spectrum, and respectful of the terminology a trans person uses to describe their identity. But there are aspects that require further attention. First, what of those trans persons who may have neither parents nor gurus? Ostensibly, they ought to fall under the new Child Registration Certificate, or B-form, policy that was announced for orphaned or abandoned children – which itself ought to extend to adults.

The authority must act swiftly to provide clarity on this potential lacuna, not only for the transgender population but also for all those denied CNICs for want of documented parentage. Second, a policy is only as good as its implementation. While Nadra already allowed for gender identification on CNICs to be assigned solely “as per applicant’s appearance or desire”, many have argued that this is not the case in practice.

Going by the provisional census results, there are 10,418 transgender Pakistanis and, according to Nadra, as of April only 1,681 have been registered, which means that at least 84pc of the trans population lack primary proof of identity. Reaching this underserviced group will require sensitisation of Nadra employees on transgender rights and related issues, procedural training on the updated policy and registration outreach initiatives.

In a nutshell, policies that seek to mainstream disenfranchised groups must be wholeheartedly embraced, and enacted in both letter and spirit in the larger interest of the society.


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