Pakistan: The Government of Pakistan must ensure equal rights of minority gender groups & uphold justice system

Since the start of 2023, four trans women in Pakistan have been brutally murdered, while no official inquiry has been launched by the law-enforcing agencies of the country. The I4C SA Hub condemns these murders as gender-based violence and urges the authorities to make concerted efforts in protecting the lives of all citizens and ensuring equality of law. As persecution against gender minority groups in the country looms large, the Global Gender Gap Index Report 2022 ranks Pakistan 145/156 for economic participation and opportunity, 135/156 for educational attainment, 143/156 for health and survival, and 95/156 for political empowerment. 

In Pakistan, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 promises fundamental rights to people identifying as trans, and safeguards their rights through legal recognition. Prior to this law, people identifying as trans weren’t given official citizenship status; and so weren’t officially recognised to have the legal cover or access to social services. 

As the law isn’t backed by an institutional mechanism of implementation, the norms of patriarchal society and prevalent religious fundamentalism which rejects trans folk, Pakistan’s transgender community remains the most vulnerable. Since the introduction of law in 2018, only 10,000 have officially registered as trans in the country. Various advocacy groups in the country believe this number is severely under-reported in census; and estimate that as many as 500,000 people identify as trans in the country; and remain vulnerable to marginalization. 

In recent years, Pakistani citizens identifying as trans, queer, non binary have taken to online spaces to advocate for their rights and spread awareness about concerns specific to their gender choices. However, this slow burgeoning movement has been met with violent attacks; as many activists continue to face online harassment, are surveilled, and face physical abuse as well. 

The I4C SA Hub urges the Government of Pakistan to ensure equal protection of all citizens of the country, in both offline and online spaces. I4C SA Hub strongly believes in upholding the law and justice system for the creation of a just and equitable society and calls on the Government of Pakistan to work closely with the National Commission of Human Rights, and law-enforcing agencies to ensure those responsible for inciting violence and hatred are held accountable.