A step forward in providing fair and transparent access to justice to transgenders in Sindh

Karachi, 24 May 2023- With funding from the US Embassy's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Government of Sindh is committed to delivering gender-responsive rule of law to protect the rights of the more vulnerable, particularly the transgender community in Sindh. Unfortunately, transgenders community are often intimidated and marginalized due to a societal pattern that excludes them from the mainstream. 

Transgenders are thus denied their right to effectively access justice and choose not to report or follow a legal recourse in instances where they are victims of crimes of gender-based violence, harassment, sexual abuse and assault. The criminal justice sector has limited capacity, specialized skills and knowledge on how to effectively deal with issues faced by transgenders and the interactions often result in a lot of emotional distress for transgenders. 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC), with gracious funding from the INL, is implementing a two-year project to support the Government of Sindh with the goal to protect the rights of transgender and vulnerable groups in Sindh. The objective is to improve the organizational response to cases involving transgender individuals, ensure fair and impartial access to justice, and uphold the rights of transgender individuals who are victims of gender-based violence or in conflict with the law.

The program is guided by research and assessment studies to identify the actual needs of the transgender community to deliver a specialized training regime for the criminal justice sector to effectively deal in handling and registration of complaints, medico-legal examinations using scientific methods, and investigation of cases through the use of modern techniques of investigation. Backed by these objectives, the UNODC organized the first Stakeholders' Consultation on the Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA) study on transgender access to justice on 23rd May, 2023 in Karachi. Funded by the INL, the main objective of the study is to identify the existing policy, procedural framework, practices, and gaps in dealing with cases involving transgender individuals.

The consultative workshop brought together a cross-section of approximately 50 participants, representing senior officials from the police, prosecution, judiciary, Sindh Judicial Academy, Ministry of Human Rights, Health, Social Welfare, and Sindh Commission on the Status of Women. Government departments and institutions shared details on the existing legal and policy framework and mechanisms to address issues and cases reported by and against transgender individuals in the province. Civil society organizations, including Gender Interactive Alliance, Sub Rang Society, Legal Rights Forum, and Legal Aid Society, were also present and provided valuable inputs.

The consultation provided a unique space for exchange of knowledge and ideas to support the design and implementation of TANA study. The participants expressed their proactive support to UNODC through the provision of relevant information and access to data to aid in the execution of the study, which will go a long way in laying the foundations for the provision of effective access to justice to the transgender community in Sindh.

The stakeholders consultation on TANA study was funded by the US Embassy's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) as part of Pakistan's Terrorism Prevention Programme (PTP2) implemented in Sindh and Balochistan.