It was only a short while back in 2011 that the Government of Pakistan added a third category of gender in the National Identity Cards, which means for the initial sixty-four years an entire gender had no identity. But the identity crisis for the trans community dates longer than the history of this country, it dates back to the British Raj which laid down the concrete foundations through which the origins of an entire community were to be erased for centuries to come.
According to the rules regarding societal proprieties being trans was an unnatural and immoral state of being and any person found ‘guilty’ of the sin was to be severely punished. It is important to note here that before the British Raj the trans community held a prestigious position in the Indian culture with associations to good luck and celebration. The sudden shift in the attitude of an entire nation towards a chunk of itself had a lot to do with the book of appropriate behaviors and civilization that the British brought along to preach to the brown skinned.
It is also important to note here that the language which has found its dominance over the entire world has no personal pronoun for the third gender, where there is one for both the female and male gender. It is therefore entirely possible that the culture set out to promote civilization and liberalism, which is now the advocate for acceptance and rights of the trans community and which has singled out cultures like that of Pakistan for stigmatizing the third gender, is responsible for the strong taboos attached to it.
Which brings us to the issue of whether the transgender issue is actually an issue or a linguistic dictation. While the common belief is that the transgender crisis is a biological problem indicating that the natural existing state of an individual is believed to be ‘unnatural’, a disease, a condition, a problem. Also indicating that the health of a perfectly normal human being is put into doubt due to the presence or absence of certain sex organs that the vast majority expects to be a certain way. The indication to a problem suggests a solution, a solution to being transgender. Why is it that nobody has ever told a man that there was a solution to his ‘condition’ and who decided that the transgender ‘condition’ needed a solution or a distinction in terms of humanity? Why is it that while applying for your National Identity Card in Pakistan you have to present a medical certificate proving that you are transgender? Why is it that no other sex is put under this humiliation?
What is it which brews such mistrust for the trans in the ‘normal’? Is it not language? The language which invaded the subcontinent and plundered at its culture replacing it with a confused, complexed and a more extreme one at the brunt of which were the peacocks of India forced to doubt their beauty and strength. Caged in imperialist normalcy and thrown into dark alleys protecting the ‘natural’ order of the British society from getting contaminated.
While one cannot deny the presence of religious misunderstanding and deep rooted cultural sexism while discussing the transgender ‘problem’ one can absolutely not rule out the possibility that the problem stems out of the word problem itself suggesting that it is entirely the result of a hangover from a foreign language.
پنجاب انفارمیشن ٹیکنالوجی بورڈ نے پلان ایکس کے تعاون سے خواتین کی کاروباری سرگرمیوں میں معاونت اور انکی تربیت کے لئے پروگرام کا آغاز کر دیا ہے۔ اس پروگرام کا بنیادی مقصد خواتین کو قومی ترقیاتی دھارے میں لانا اور انہیں کاروباری سرگرمیوں کے تیار کرنا اور انکی حوصلہ افزائی کرنا ہے۔ اس مقصد کے لئے خواتین کی استعداد کار میں اضافے کے لئے تربیت اور معاونت فراہم کی جائیگی۔ اب جبکہ پلان ایکس کا آغاز ہوئے دو برس گزر چکے ہیں تو اس تربیتی پروگرام میں صرف چار فیصد کمپنیاں ایسی تھیں جنہیں خواتین چلا رہی تھیں۔ پاکستان جہاں کی مجموعی آبادی میں خواتین کو اکثریت حاصل ہے ان اعدادوشمار کو کسی طرح بھی حوصلہ افزا قرار نہیں دیا جا سکتا، جبکہ ملک کی مجموعی لیبر فورس میں خواتین کی شرکت کا تناسب 28 فیصد ہے۔
پلان ایکس کی اس کاوش کا ایک اور مقصد اینٹرپینوئرشپ کے منظرنامے پر خواتین کی کاشوں کا اجاگر کرنا بھی ہے۔ اس حوالے سے پلان ایکس کی جانب سے گزشتہ دنوں جاری کی جانیوالی ایک پریس ریلیز میں کہا گیا ہے کہ ملک میں انٹر پنیوئرشپ اور جدت کے تناظر میں خواتین کی شرکت کو یقینی بنانے اور ان کی تخلیقی صلاحیتوں کو اجاگر کرنے کے لئے پلان ایکس نے پاور وویمن انشیٹو کا آغاز کیا ہے۔
اس پروگرام کے تحت ملک کی صف اول کی یونیورسٹیوں میں زیر تعلیم خواتین کو تربیت، اکیڈمک پارٹنرشپ کے لئے منتخب کیا جائیگا تاکہ خواتین طالبات کو انٹرپینوئرشپ کی جانب نہ صرف راغب کیا جا سکے بلکہ ملک کی مجموعی ورک فورس میں ان کی شمولیت کی حوصلہ افزائی کی جا سکے۔ اس مقصد کے حصول کے لئے پلان ایکس کی ٹیم مختلف یونیورسٹیوں میں سیمنارز کا انعقاد کریگی جس میں خاص طور پر خواتین کے ایسے پروگرامز میں شرکت کے لئے حوصلہ افزائی کی جائیگی۔
اس کے ساتھ ساتھ پلان ایکس خواتین کی جانب سے بنائی جانیوالی کمپنیوں کو اپنے ایکسیلیٹر پروگرام میں شامل کریگا جس کے تحت ان خواتین کی جانب سے بنائی گئی نئی کمپنیوں کو تین ماہ کی بنیادی تربیت فراہم کی جائیگی۔ یہ کمپنیاں بعد ازاں پلان ایکس ایکسسلریشن پروگرام کے لئے درخواستیں بھی دینے کی اہل ہونگی جس کے تحت انہیں پلان ایکس میں مزید چھ ماہ کی تربیت اور تمام تر سہولیات فراہم کی جائیں گی۔
پاور وویمن پروگرام کے لانچ پر پلان ایکس کی ڈائریکٹر حٖفضہ شورش کا کہنا تھا کہ پلان ایکس میں بطور ٹیم یہاں صنفی توازن موجود ہے اور مرد و خواتین کو کام کرنے کے لئے صحت مندانہ ماحول دستیاب ہے اور اس پروگرام کے تحت ہم خواتین کی شمولیت کی حوصلہ افزائی کرینگے۔
حالیہ برسوں میں پاکستان میں خواتین انٹرپینئورشپ نے اتار چڑھاؤ کے باوجود ترقی کی ہے۔ حالیہ برسوں کے دوران بخش فاؤنڈیشن کی شریک بانی فائزہ فرحان کو معروف جریدے فوربز کی انڈر تھرٹی سوشل انٹرپینئوئرز کی فہرست میں شامل کیا گیا اسی طرح گزشتہ برس ملالہ فنڈ کی شریک بانی شازیہ شاہد اور سگھڑ کی بانی خالدہ بروہی کو اسی فہرست میں شامل کیا گیا تھا۔
اسی طرح سال رواں میں ایک بزنس کانفرنس کے موقع پر پاکستان اور امریکہ نے ایک مشترکہ ایکشن پلان پر دستخط کئے تھے جس کے تحت خواتین انٹرپینوئرشپ کی حوصلہ افزائی کی جائے گی تاکہ انہیں معاشی خود انحصار یمیسر آ سکے۔
She shut the book and jumped around with blissful glee. Cinderella was her favourite character and she had gotten married too.
Mother had given her the news only yesterday. On her next birthday, she would be a bride, just like Cinderella. Cinderella’s wedding dress was white and puffy with beautiful flowers sown on it. So would be hers. Cinderella’s dainty shoes sparkled brightly. So will hers. Hundreds of people in fancy dresses attended Cinderella’s wedding. Her own wedding was to be attended by almost the entire village too. Food and drink will flow and everyone would look upon her as she will enter in her sparkling gown. Just like it happened in Cinderella!
The only difference is, Cinderella was not made a bride when she was 12. But for girls between the ages of 12 and 17 in Egypt, it is a frequented practice. Hence, the above described account depicts the true mind-set of each child bride that ties the knot in Egypt. Years have not yet touched their innocent dispositions. Their faculties are pure, their hearts bright and their sensibilities are not yet open to vulnerable exposure. In short, they are only children being tied together in marriages that are too big for their breeches. Such is the example of the 12-year-old Omar and the 11-year-old Gharam who were engaged in a lavish ceremony near Cairo.
Before questions are raised regarding the age of marriage envisaged by Islam and how puberty is put forth as a reasonable pretext for marriages, let us make a few things crystal clear. Islam has favoured early marriages in order to save the collective society from illicit relations, adultery and many such vices. But it has favoured ‘early’ marriages. Not ‘child’ marriages. Before someone starts giving examples of young marriages from different eras of Islamic history, let us also take a moment to ponder how drastically different were the ethos of those societies. Those were eras of precocious children who were capable of handling the affairs of not only their households, but of the entire state and empire that they were entrusted with.
Not only Muslim history, but European history also holds examples of rulers like Julius Caesar who was extremely young (by today’s standards) to take up the reins of the entire Roman Empire. But as man has evolved, so have his standards, his ethics and his values. While the behavioural sciences have advanced in theories on how to bring up children, they have also made our children more dependent. Technology and gadgets haven’t helped either. By spoon-feeding our children, we have raised a generation that is not mature enough to support or even survive early marriages, let alone the custom of child marriages prevalent in Egypt and other countries.
These marriages represent a culture of societal pressure and control that attempts to pre-empt and counter any decision making process on part of the bride and the groom. As even in the 21st century, ‘love’ marriages remain taboo for conservative societies, parents in such situations feel that they will encounter less resistance if they marry off their children while they are immature and impressionable. Some like Omar’s father in this case argue that,
“We have to protect them in their early years before they reach the age of deviation.”
Is it the only way to do so? No one denies the importance of raising kids according to certain moral standards. But is it wise to hand them such humongous responsibilities? Childhood being the most endearing and precious time of a person’s life, being deprived of it by marrying them and burdening them with obligations is sheer cruelty. What makes it even crueller is the fact that at this stage, due to their innocence and naivete, they do not realise what a marriage could bring at this time. Consummating their marriage and having their own children, while they are still pre-teens, becomes an ethical nightmare.
How can they be wise parents if they themselves are immature and inexperienced in life, not to mention their education is disrupted? Barbie dolls are replaced with crying infants being nursed by little girls who are physically fragile and mentally juvenile. But it would be unfair to say that only girls feel the brunt of this antiquated and brutal practice. Boys are affected adversely too. They become mentally stressed out from the responsibilities thrust upon them and the premature flair for physical intimacy drives them towards unhealthy and illicit activities.
Islam teaches us certain guidelines for conducting our affairs, but it also invites us towards Ijma and Qiyas, which are tools of intellectual cognition and derivations. Thus, there is a need for proper research regarding these matters in light of religion and circumstances to guide the normal public as to when and how marriages be conducted in an Islamic society.
By our orthodox beliefs, we have made our lives more difficult by brandishing the so-called iron fist of Islam at anyone who dares to question our practices. Child marriage is a misinterpreted and cruel practice that reeks of ignorance. It must be eradicated because every child has the right towards a robust childhood before he or she becomes burdened with the affairs of adulthood. Let your children, be children first and then parents, when the right time
Dubai Criminal Court was told that Uzbek national M A, 35, a mother of two,
lived in cramped conditions with her mother and brother when a neighbour
offered her the position.
“She [the neighbour] called on March 7 this year and told me that I will be
paid US$500 a month for child caring and cleaning the house as well,” said
After receiving the offer, M A went to meet the neighbour, S, to arrange her
travel to Dubai.
When she arrived for the meeting, S was nowhere to be found. In her place
was a man who offered to help.
“A man identified as B, that S had told me about, came and offered to buy
my ticket and issue my visa then send me to a woman he knows in Dubai
who would help me find a job,” said M A. “Then, I would pay him back from
The money she owed would be paid to her employer in Dubai before being
transferred to B, the court heard.
M A stayed in the city, where she met B, for a further 12 days, until her visa
and ticket were ready for collection. During that time, her expenses were
paid for by B.
On March 19 this year, M A landed at Dubai International Airport and was
picked up by her compatriot, 44-year-old E A.
From there, the duo travelled to a flat in Sharjah, after which M A allegedly
had her passport seized and was told she had to repay US$10,000 in
“I told her that B told me it was only US$3000,” said M A.
The court heard that E A then told the victim she had to work as a
“I refused but I got frightened when she said she would send me to a gang
who would lock me up and give me away for sex seekers for the cheapest
prices,” said M A.
M A told the court she was taken to a flat in Dubai where she met other
women from her home country, all of whom had sex with men in exchange
For over a week, M A gave her captors excuses for not going out to seek
customers. On her first day outside the flat, looking for men, she was able
to escape with the help of one of a prostitute.