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Trans people suffering under the coronavirus lockdown with no government aid feel like ‘the most unfortunate humans on Earth’

Nick Duffy April 13, 2020
Transgender people protest in Pakistan in 2019, prior to the lockdown, demanding an end to discrimination

Transgender people protest in Pakistan in 2019, prior to the lockdown, demanding an end to discrimination (Photo: RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty Images)

Trans people in Pakistan are being deprived of support during the pandemic lockdown, according to alarming reports from the country.

Regions across Pakistan have imposed a lockdown, with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country standing at 5,300.

Pakistani outlet The News reported concerns about the lack of support for trans people – many of whom were living in extreme poverty even before the lockdown, and have been left to fend for themselves as NGOs who previously helped them have stopped working.

Trans people ‘ignored as if we are not humans’.

Shakila, a trans woman from Peshawar, told the newspaper: “We are the most unfortunate human beings on Earth because neither the federal nor the provincial government has bothered to consider our plight.

“The government and the philanthropists are giving relief package to others, but have ignored us as if we are not humans.”

She added: “It hurt us when the federal and provincial governments announced relief packages for industrialists and government servants, but ignored the most neglected section of the society.”

Another trans woman, Nazo, also from Peshawar,  told the newspaper that with work dried up and no relief available, trans people are struggling to make ends meet.

She said: “[Before], we were worried about our security, but now we are worried about food, shelter and medicines.”

Transgender people protest in Pakistan in 2019, prior to the lockdown, demanding an end to discrimination
Transgender people protest in Pakistan in 2019, prior to the lockdown, demanding an end to discrimination (Photo: RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty Images)

Iftikhar Shalwani, a commissioner in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, previously said that help would be provided for trans people to ensure they would not be left hungry or out on the streets.

He told the Express Tribune: “We are committed to providing them with all possible help.”

Pakistan extended free healthcare to trans people.

In January, Pakistan extended free healthcare to transgender citizens for the first time.

Prime minister Imran Khan said that his government was “taking responsibility” for trans people, who  are routinely denied treatment and can face harassment or ridicule from hospital staff and patients.

The 2017 national census recorded 10,418 trans people in Pakistan, out of a population 207 million, though charities estimate there are at least 500,000 trans people.

Seven per cent of trans people in Pakistan are HIV-positive, meaning that treatment is vital to their health.

More: Coronavirus, Coronavirus lockdown, Pakistan, trans rights

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