Eunuchs have two choices; to become a begger or a sex worker


While ringing the doorbell of a house in Sector G-9, a 27-year-old eunuch Reshma was chanting, “Give some money; may God bless you with good health of your children.” And after getting 10 rupees, the satisfaction was clearly visible on her face. Reshma cashes in on his beautiful face and graceful moves, by begging in the markets and door-to-door around Islamabad. But like most of Pakistan’s eunuch and transsexual community – mocked, pitied and shunned by society – his life has mostly been marred by hardships and sufferings.
While sharing her sufferings with Pakistan Today, she said, “Nobody respects us; for them, we’re here just to make fun or used as sex workers. Men harass us more than they do girls.”
She said previously, she used to dance for earning money to ensure that she could sustain herself but she was subjected to sexual violence everyday in the process; therefore, quitted the job for good. “Now, I have became a beggar, which I think is comparatively respectable way of earning because of reduced chances of sexual harassment,” she said in her reedy, androgynous voice. She said majority of the people, especially women at homes, believed that they were close to God Almighty and that was the reason they did not refuse to give them alms or food, hence, making it quite safe profession.
Because of their perceived misfortune at having being born between the two genders, the traditional belief in Pakistan is that God will be more inclined to listen to their prayers. But this leaves the eunuchs with little other choice but to beg on the streets for pennies and many end up as prostitutes. Eunuchs were traditionally paid to help celebrate the birth of a son or to dance at weddings.
In Muslim majority country, like Pakistan, where sexual relations outside marriage are taboo and homosexuality is illegal, eunuchs are also treated as sex objects and often become the victims of violent assaults.
“Every eunuch is involved in prostitution,” said 22-year-old Arooj, who is ready for sex for mere 200 rupees. “This is hard, but I earn more doing this than the begging,” she added, as she looked for clients at a famous market of Islamabad. Arooj said she became a prostitute at the age of ten and since then was raped every day, but she had other option for survival. “Lots of bad guys select eunuchs and rape them for satisfaction and fun, they burn them with cigarettes,” she said. “We are as human as men and women, but different,” she remarked, adding that she was born a male but with a female soul. “We are a different breed. We pleaded the judiciary to accept eunuchs as a different gender category.”
“We are treated badly, particularly by police,” she said. “They mostly intimidate us without provocation and snatch our hard-earned money.” However, she noted that the police had been more “positive” toward eunuchs after the Supreme Court ruled in their favour.
Eunuchs claim that they are treated worse than animals in Pakistan, highlighting that there is a government department for wildlife and animals, but no institution for them. According to a survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan last year, more than 55 percent Pakistanis say that the eunuchs should be given special quota in educational institutions and offices so that they can have a better life. Whereas 25 percent do not agree and 20 percent state they do not know. However, a majority (60 percent) believe that they would not like to be friends with them with only 14 percent responding in affirmation while 26 percent say they cannot say for sure.