IN a society where transgender persons often face violence and abuse, the Sindh Assembly`s decision to reserve a 0.5pc quota for members of the community in the province`s public-sector institutions is a welcome, progressive move. The Sindh legislature passed the relevant law in a unanimous decision during Monday`s session, with the parliamentary affairs minister saying that the quota would also be implemented in the private sector. Earlier, several departments in Punjab had also announced quotas for the transgender community. Giving its members the ability to make a dignified living is essential to ensuring their basic rights, as the usual modes of employment available to this group is begging, or the flesh trade.
The announcement of the job quotas, as well as other moves at the state level, have marked a welcome official approach. For example, transgender people can now apply for CNICs; without the basic identity document, members of the community found it impossible to operate bank accounts, apply for decent jobs, etc. Moreover, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 is a landmark law that signalled that the state was ready to recognise and protect the community. The latter has indeed begun to emerge from the margins, with community members entering the police force, becoming doctors, lawyers and mediapersons. However, where considerable progress has been made in securing transgender rights, members of the community continue to be vulnerable targets. For example, numerous cases of murder have been reported, particularly of transgender persons in KP. Very often the killers get away with their crime as families who usually disown trans members, especially in the more conservative parts of the country are not interested in pursuing the case. This impunity must end and the murderers must be brought to justice. All other rights will only be of value when transgender people`s right to life is protected by the state. Therefore, police forces need to be sensitised in order to protect the community, and take action against those who harm or murder its members.