The journey of Nisha Rao will inspire you even though you might not relate to her circumstances because it shows courage and defiance of stereotypes and the breaking of norms- everything we read in books but don’t see in real life. From struggling to survive in the streets of Karachi she made it to the Karachi Bar Association and if she can do it despite the adverse circumstances in her life, so can you. So if you’re ever in need of inspiration and are struggling in life, take heed from her story and never give up!
Nisha Rao Makes History
On the 31st of August, Nisha Rao became the first transgender in Pakistan to be admitted to an MPhil program at Karachi University. Nisha’s story is that of constant struggle and perseverance. She ran away from home in Lahore at the age of 18 and eventually arrived in Karachi. When Nisha could not find active employment, she made the choice to not fall prey to what many had done before her, and continue to do so – accept a life of beggary & prostitution. She resorted to begging out of sheer need but used the alms to pay her way through law classes.
Finally, her efforts materialized when she earned her law degree, gained her license and was admitted into the Karachi Bar Association in 2020. Now, Nisha Rao has finally earned herself a spot at Karachi University’s MPhil program to study law, and while no current scholarships or policies exist to assist transgender students in their educational pursuits, Nisha is persistent in her goals and plans to pursue the degree by paying for it herself.
What Is The Trans Pride Society?
The ‘Trans Pride Society’ is a Non-Governmental Organization, headed by Pakistan’s first transgender lawyer – Nisha Rao. The NGO aims to act as a platform that empowers transgenders in Pakistan and results in them attaining respect in society, as well as education, soft skills training and eventually economic independence. A few of their initiatives include – The Trans Pride Tailor Shop, Trans Pride Litigation Funding, Trans Pride Awareness Workshops, Trans Pride Help-line and the Trans Pride Monthly Community Dinners/Town-Hall Meetings.
Nisha Rao Inspiring Others In The Transgender Community To Escape The Vicious Cycle Of Poverty & Sex Work
According to the 6th Population and Housing Census, Pakistan’s transgender population stands at 10,418 — 0.005% of the total population of over 207 million (Pakistan Bureau of Statistics). Moreover, according to a United Nations AIDS survey, 42% of the transgender people in Pakistan are illiterate. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, 30% of the trans- people have finished primary school and 23% secondary school; about 7% have been to a college. 40% of transgender people have had no access to education (The News). Lastly, in a 2012 study, it was found that ‘social exclusion and the lack of occupational and educational opportunities pushed transgenders in Pakistan towards entering the risky business of selling sex’.
Thus, it’s high time that we adopt more inclusionary policies towards the transgender community in Pakistan and provide help towards integrating them into society. Not only will this help break the vicious cycle of poverty and sex work that they have to resort to in order to survive, but it will also increase Pakistan’s human capital which could lead to economic growth and stability. Therefore, it’s important to highlight Nisha’s journey so that it’ll hopefully inspire and pave the way for many other individuals who hail from marginalized communities who might take heart from her story and change their destiny!
Resources cited in this article: Dawn News, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, The News and the research article: Is social exclusion pushing the Pakistani Hijras (Transgenders) towards commercial sex work? a qualitative study by Abdullah, M.A., Basharat, Z., Kamal, B. et al. BMC Int Health Hum Rights 12, 32 (2012).
This article is the collaboration effort of several members of Team FUCHSIA.