A Transgender Protection Center was established by the Rawalpindi Police in May last year as the need was felt for special measures to cater to the most vulnerable segments of society. The center acts as a service and reporting station, as well as an avenue to provide transgender persons legal aid and guidance.
Reem Sharif is the first transgender person to be appointed a Victim Support Officer, Assistant and Counselor at the center by the Punjab Police where, alongside police officials, she helps protect transgender persons of the city. She also holds a double master’s degree, including in women and gender studies.
Rawalpindi City Police Officer Muhammad Ahsan Younas, who is credited for spearheading the project, explained that the purpose of the center is to provide protection to transgender people against discrimination and violation of their rights.
Sharif explained that when members of the city’s transgender community see her at the front desk of the center, they immediately feel welcome and are able to communicate their issues properly, which range from harassment or police arrests due to begging.
“There is also a regular counseling room at the center where they are provided help,” she added.
Nayab Ali, a transgender rights activist, welcomed the establishment of the center for the transgender community, especially since it employs one of their own.
Similarly, Rabia Sagar, a lawyer, advocated that such centers must be set up in major towns and cities, especially after the passing of the Transgender Person Protection of Rights Act 2018 which officially recognised a third gender in the country and guaranteed equal rights for trans persons. She added that the law’s implementation remains weak and this gap must be plugged.
“If decent employment opportunities are provided to transgender persons, they can become useful citizens of the country and society. But for this, the discriminatory attitudes against us must be changed and we must be recognised as equal citizens under the law,” asserted Sharif.