The issue here is not of feminism or lesbianism but the issue is can our close society has such laws to cop with unprecedented situation that is turning into a new direction with every passing moment.
Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif of the Lahore High Court (LHC) sentenced Shumail Raj and Shahzina Tariq to three years of rigorous imprisonment in jails at Lahore and Faisalabad respectively and Rs 10,000 fine for each. He said failure of fine payment would add a month to imprisonment. The couple was jailed because they had lied about Shumail’s sex, who pretended like a male. The lovers, also cousins were sentenced to put behind the bars because of same-sex marriage and perjury which is against the injunctions of Islam and unlawful but no case could be instituted under Section 377 PPC, the commission of unnatural offense. On the other hand, couple proclaimed they love each other and only death could make them apart. It was also disclosed that Shehzina’s father wanted to sell her off into marriage to a man much older than her and that Shumail (Nazia) married her (Shehzina) in order to save her from this fate.
It was not the very first case in the history of Pakistan but in sub-continent. Shumail Raj ‘the husband’, 31 and Shehzina Tariq, the wife, 24, were truly, madly deeply in love with each other, when they fled from Faisalabad to Lahore after resistance shown from girl’s father. The couple just after made their entrance in the city of Lahore captured by Lahore Police and case was sent to Lahore high court for further proceeding.
Another weird decision made by the judge was, to issue show-cause notice to Dr Abdul Hafeez Kardar, who had allegedly performed surgery on Shumail Raj, that under what law he was authorized to perform an operation of the nature. I argue if Raj was not feeling comfortable under female characteristics, is it any harm to make his life comfortable? It also needs a serious thinking especially for the days to come.
Pakistan is a ridiculously closed society, but sometimes one is in shock at the misinformation and prejudice even among more broad-minded circles. This case is the first of its kind in Pakistan, but our neighbouring Muslim country, Iran, is no stranger to transgenderism or to sex-change surgeries. We have a healthy precedent in the example of Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini first issued a fatwa declaring it not only Islamic but advisable to undergo sex reassignment therapy, so that a transsexual does not live the life of an unacceptable person. Iran has not only passed legislation based on social and scientific evidence to make sex change legal, such individuals are financially assisted by the state to have surgery for the purpose. Iran has gone so far as to achieve scholarship in social and legal issues arising from such sex-change. I suggest that the people and the government of Pakistan must learn from the experiences in Iran and do not repeat the same inhuman and unscientific patterns of injustice and prejudice that are pervasive in a world that insists on staying to ridiculous caricatures of what it means to be a ‘real man’ or a ‘real woman’.
Published in The POST, weekly Independent & Weekly BLITZ international
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