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Supreme Court grants voting right to eunuchs

Orders Election Commission to register them

Gulf News

Islamabad: The Supreme Court has ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to give voting right to eunuchs in the country by registering them in the electoral rolls.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has directed the commission, in an order issued on Monday, that details on eunuchs be obtained from the social welfare departments of all the provinces for their registration as voters.

No exact official figures are available about the number of eunuchs in the country but, according to rough estimates, it may be somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000.

The ECP, which is preparing new electoral rolls for the next general elections, has been asked to submit its report to the court in two weeks regarding registration of eunuchs as voters.

The Supreme Court has also asked the National Data Registration Authority to expedite its task of issuing computerised national identity cards to eunuchs, who mostly depend on charity or money earned by dancing and singing on occasions like weddings for their livelihood.

A representative of the Sindh provincial government informed the court that it was going to establish a community centre for eunuchs and taking steps for their social uplift.

A piece of land has been earmarked to set up a colony for them and their services were hired in the malaria eradication campaign, the representative said.

The court directed that other provinces follow the example of Sindh. Last year the Supreme Court had ordered all the district administrations in the country to help eunuchs get their inherited properties.

During proceedings on a petition, the court was informed that usually hermaphrodite children are abandoned. They are handed to gurus (eunuch leaders) at the time of their birth or at a very tender age. They have no chance to get an education and are put into training in singing and dancing.