Khawajasira community in Pakistan has faced extreme discrimination & marginalization, which has resulted in significant challenges in achieving social acceptance & basic human rights.

Imagine being given punishment for a wrongdoing that you did not even commit. What would be your thinking? You would just hate people, and probably you would not wish to see them again. Yet there is a community in our country that is bearing the hatred of society and has been ostracised. People think they are less human. They are inferior or may be cursed by God. It is none other than the Khawajasira community, which is also known as Hijras.

They face extreme discrimination and are deprived of basic rights such as healthcare, education, and employment. Since there were no employment opportunities for them, they had to opt for begging and prostitution.

Yet the condition was not the same as we went through the pages of history. They were very fortunate people and held strong political and social ground at the time of the Mughals, yet the odds got against them as the Mughal empire fell. The fortune of the Khawajasira community shifted from being the keeper of secrets in Mughal courts to being a marginalised community in society.

Despite the positive legislative steps taken by the Pakistani government in 2018 to recognise the Khawajasira as a third gender and protect them from discrimination, effective implementation remains a challenge, indicating the need for comprehensive societal change.

The Khawajasira community is facing massive challenges in achieving social acceptance and rights. A simple logical question arises here: what could be the causes that put a person into the category of non-binary gender?

Much research has already been done on it, and tons of information is available over the internet that tells us that the reasons for becoming a khawajasira are totally natural and random. There are certain types of changes in the DNA (genetic material) that are known as mutations.

Eventually, these mutations cause a baby to become Khawajasira. Changes in the DNA are totally random and can happen to anyone. Therefore, we have scientific grounds to argue that the Khawajasira people did not choose to be Khawajasira. Now, by saying this, I did not mean that there is anything wrong with such people.

Therefore, we as a nation need to work on the acceptance of such people. We need to divert the trend towards thinking of them as social pathologies. They are innocent people who deserve respect and acceptability.

We can help them by providing them with a safe environment for getting an education and going to work. Together, we can bring change by getting help from Khawajasira, since they alone know the pain and can lead us to the source of healing.

Following are the steps that could be beneficial for the empowerment of the Khawajasira community: First should be education for all; we need to break this stigma that khawajasira should not be in schools. We need to teach khawajasira kids, as well as our kids, to accept them as their own friends.

Then we can work on employment opportunities in which we need to provide them with a safe and friendly environment to work in with strong policies on harassment. Building special wards in the hospitals where Khawajasira people could get treatment according to their needs. And finally, Khawajasiras should be given opportunities to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives.

They should be included in the policy-making machinery of the government. Which can include participation in local councils and community groups and the creation of Khawajasira-led organizations. They should not only be empowered socially but also economically; for that, they should be given easy loans with lower interest rates to encourage them to open their own small businesses, which would eventually help them build their economic resilience.

The government can also designate a quota for them in parliament so that there should be representation of the Khawajasira community.

Finally, to do all the said things, the media can play an explicit and powerful role in the eradication of hatred and discrimination against khawajasira in Pakistan. Since the media has the power to shape public opinion.

It can promote the inclusion and acceptance of khawajasira community in Pakistan. Positive and respectful representation of Khawajasiras in the media can help reduce stigma and promote empathy and understanding.

In conclusion, the Khawajasira community in Pakistan has faced extreme discrimination and marginalization, which has resulted in significant challenges in achieving social acceptance and basic human rights.

However, it is important to recognize that being a Khawajasira is a natural occurrence caused by genetic mutations and not a choice made by the individual. It is time for our society to move beyond the social stigma and see the Khawajasira community as human beings who deserve respect and acceptance. With the above mentioned steps, we can work towards creating a society that is inclusive and accepting of all individuals, regardless of their gender identity.

The article is jointly authored by Muhammad Mustafa and Qadesh Flalgus.

By Muhammad Mustafa

Assistant Professor Forman Christian College University, Lahore Pakistan