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Hermaphrodites And The Bailout


A group of hijras protest in Islamabad in 2008

A group of hijras protest in Islamabad in 2008

A colleague was doing some research for a story about hermaphrodites in Pakistan and came across this December 2009 article from a conservative Rawalpindi-based daily "Nawa-e Waqt":

Hermaphrodites have welcomed the [Pakistan] Supreme Court's suggestion of procuring their services in the process of recovering amounts from national defaulters [corrupt government and related officials]. They added that those who have misappropriated the national wealth with their hands would be forced to pay it back into national treasury

The [hermaphrodites] would ensure it by clapping their hands and jolting their buttocks [typical steps performed by hermaphrodites], and they would make it next to impossible for these culprits to leave their homes. They would not stop chasing them unless they return the plundered money. Haji Saiyan, guru [highest ranking teacher] of hermaphrodites in Punjab, said that if the Supreme Court had vested trust in them, they would also give assurance in exchange that "these candles would burn to produce light.

Hermaphrodites, sometimes referred to as eunuchs in Pakistan, often live in colonies and make their living by begging or by performing at ceremonies. (CNN had a piece last year about their efforts to fight widespread discrimination in society.)

Known as hirjas, they will often "shame" people on the street into giving them money.

-- Luke Allnutt

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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