Khawaja Sira, or the Transgender community, often ostracized or reduced to a demeaning position, had their first peaceful march in Sindh, Pakistan. While the government ensured that the bomb experts marked the area safe where the protest had to take place, police also protected the protestors for a safe and secure march.
The Khawaja sira community demanded protection, employment, and social acceptance laws. The placards also ordered the killing of transgender people, ridiculing them at wedding events which leads to harassment, raping transgender people, shooting them on their feet so they can't dance, and dumping the newly born Khawaja sira must be dealt with lawfully. The community rightfully ordered the Transgender Person Protection of Rights Bill of 2018 to be legalized and passed in its original form.
The birth of a male or a female means celebration. Families who give birth to transgender mostly leave them in the streets, dumpsters, or the spaces where the transgender community nurtures them. Constantly feeling secluded from society for who they are, history plays an essential role in narrating the downfall of Khawaja sira in the subcontinent of India.
During the British Raj, the transgender community suffered greatly because there was no space for a third gender. Only two genders existed for the colonizers. Therefore, the ridicule of the transgender community began when the colonizers took control of India.
The placards held by the transgender community highlighted severe social issues. It focused on the problems the Khawaja sira community faced for a long time. From demanding to be happy on the birth of Khawaja sira to asking about 0.2% of employment and education rights were the main highlights of the placards and the Moorat March.
Shehzadi Rai, the protest manager, told Dawn News, Pakistan, that "this is Pakistan's first trans rights march." She also added that November 20 is the day we mourn the deaths of all the trans people who got killed.
According to statistics, since 2015, 91 trans women have been brutally attacked and murdered in Khyber Pakhtun Khuwa. More than 2000 cases are registered. The transgender community from Khyber Pakhtun Khuwa, Quetta, and Lahore joined the protest to speak against the brutality faced by the transgender community.
The protest not only brought the transgender community into the limelight but also highlighted the suffering of Iranian women. Rai told Dawn News that they stand in solidarity with the women of Iran. The slogan the trans community has chosen this time is "Zan, Zindagi, and Azad," which translates into "Women, Life, and Free."
The Demands of the Trans Rights Movement/Sindh Moorat March.
The Trans community put forward twelve demands in the Sindh Moorat March.
1- The transgender community demanded that Pakistan's Federal and Provincial governments must criminalize hate speech and transphobic speech and implement it.
2- The Law of Diyyat, which means blood money or family pardon, must not be the law when it comes to murder cases of Transgender people.
3- People should be given the right to perceive their gender identity. The community said that it is the fundamental right of every person.
4- Disowning and abandoning transgender people should be a criminal offense against the parents or the legal guardians.
5- It should be made a criminal offense when transgender people are not given houses for rent or as properties. Housing based on discrimination on gender identity should be a criminal offense.
6- The trans community demanded that students read about the Khawaja Sira from their time in the subcontinent in their curriculum.
7- The trans community rightfully demanded that the federal government pass the Transgender Rights Bill of 2018 and Rules 2020 in its original form. The Trans community requested that the government of Sindh must act and let this bill protecting the transgender community be passed.
8- The government should implement the 0.2% quota for the trans community in employment and educational institutes.
9- The Trans community demanded that PEMRA take strict action against the hate speech and misinformation regarding the transgender community on national television.
10- The trans community demanded the State build safe houses for Transgender people, who must be looked after by the transgender community.
11- Because of the massive ridicule of transgender people, sensitization programs must be held in all public and private institutes to teach people how to respect transgender people.
12- The transgender community demanded that they be given seats in Federal and provincial government on a priority basis. The community demanded one reserved seat in the federal and provincial assemblies.
Urvah Khan, a Canadian Pakistani singer, attended the Khawaja sira protest. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Jr. was also present at the first trans protest in Pakistan and chanted that Sindh equally belongs to the transgender community. Several transwomen stepped out and attended the demonstrations, dancing, and singing, enjoying the day and hoping they deserved respect in society.
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