The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the national government to recognize the hijra community as a distinct third gender. The hijra community consists of transgendered people, transvestites, and eunuchs.
The court ruled that the federal government starts allowing people to register as “hijra” when applying for the national identity card. The card is required for voting to be able to use the Internet in cybercafe establishments. Not having a card is equal to being given an outcast status.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry also informed that the ruling also guarantees that people who will declare themselves as hijra and not as a male or a female should not be excluded in issues of inheritance rights. Previous cases show that members of the third gender are often ignored when inheritances are created. He also warned that harassment against members of the third gender would no longer be tolerated.
An estimated 300,000 hijras live together in slum areas as they are shunned by the large Muslim community. They commonly live as beggars or work as dancers in weddings and carnivals while some resort to prostitution.