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Hijras, by Bruno Amsellem

Hijras, by Bruno Amsellem

The status of transsexuals is one of the paradoxes of Pakistani society.

In April 2013, they were able to vote for the first time in a general election as “third-gender citizens”. For almost five years, the country’s authorities have given them the right to state Transexual, man or woman, on identity cards. This breakthrough was achieved after a long struggle out of the shadows of the community, who over the last decade no longer hesitate to hold demonstrations and defend their rights. The Hijras are a legacy of the eunuchs of the Mongol emperors from the Indian sub-continent – an ancient tradition. With a presence only in the remote villages of Pakistan, they are a part of society that nobody wants to see.

Rawalpindi, the twin city of Islamabad, has a population of almost two million, among which are several thousand transsexuals, many of whom are forced to lie about their status.

Often rejected by their families, the majority of these had to leave home at a young age with neither employment nor resources, living in the communities under the guidance of a guru – a trainer to dozens of transsexuals who gets them to dance in popular festivals and profits from their services. Out of sight, prostitution is never far away, and sexual exploitation is a part of daily life for the Hijras.

Forced to live from their bodies, and scorned by society at large, transsexuals find it hard to break away from their communities. It’s a situation that eats away all hope of one day being able to begin a new life.

Copyright © Bruno Amsellem / Divergence

 

17.05.2017 - 02.07.2017
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