Discriminatory behavior against trans-community observed during COVID-19 Pandemic in Punjab-Pakistan

Discriminatory behavior against trans-community observed during COVID-19 Pandemic. Only 3% Transgender persons were benefitted from EHSAAS Cash Program, initiated by the Federal Government, 49% were abused mentally, physically or sexually during Corona Pandemic. It was expressed by Mr. Waqas Abid Advocate, Founder of Good Thinkers Organization, while sharing research findings with media.

Mr. Abid further added that the Government of Pakistan undertook several tremendous measures to protect people from Corona-virus thus providing relief during the pandemic. Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program is one of the social protection and welfare initiatives aimed at providing needy people with financial support to address their basic needs. Starting from April 2020, an amount worth PKR 12,000 (per family) was given to poor families. According to a study conducted by UNICEF, UN and IPC-IG to assess social protection response in Asia focusing on an extensive mapping and overviewing of how social protection measures were deployed by the countries in Asia and the Pacific region in the response to the COVID-19 crisis, Pakistan covered the highest number of responses to social protection in Asia through Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program. According to the `Provincial Breakdown of Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program Beneficiaries’ till today, around 7704969 beneficiaries enrolled in the program in Punjab out of which 6617079 beneficiaries withdrew the amount. However, the government did not pay special consideration to include transgender persons in this program.

Around 8% of the respondents expressed their grief on unfair behavior of staff at public health facilities. Research concluded that 52% of trans-persons did not visit government hospitals during COVID-19 because of fear in their mind about misbehave of people at health care facilities.

Mr. WaqasAbid said that commuting on public transport is also a big challenge for Trans-Community. 16% complained that the behavior of either passengers or the transporters/staff was harsh and unfair with them and feel unsafe while traveling.  52% informed that they did not travel during the pandemic. Nearly 32% responded that they did not face any discrimination while traveling and were satisfied with public behavior. 

Trans-persons remained at home during pandemic, as most of leisure facilities were closed during the lockdown period and used their time productively under the supervision of their Gurus and learnt various cooking, stitching and dancing art

During the lockdown, a vast number of local philanthropists provided in-kind and financial support to needy people in their areas by distributing cash grants, rations, other food items, clothes and medicines, etc. But transgenders were badly ignored in such distributions.

The livelihood of transgender persons predominantly depends on begging, dancing and sex work. Their livelihood greatly affected during the lockdown as the gatherings were not allowed for such events. Those – who involve in sex work -remained at high risk of getting as well as transmitting coronavirus and HIV. Consequently, the pandemic severely affected their income generation. As high as 81% of the respondents reported that their employment or profession was affected.

            It is the duty of state and citizens to keep such types of marginalized segments of society on front loop, during response of any Pandemic.

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