University in Pakistan offers free education for transgender students

Pakistani transgender protestors (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A university in Pakistan has offered to give free education to transgender people.

The Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) is a public research university, based in the capital Islamabad.

It was the first open university in Asia and one of the largest higher learning institutions in the world.

Elementary School
School – but at a distance (Creative Commons)

The institution announced this week that it will offer transgender people free education in any subject, be it PhDs or more vocational courses, DawnNews reports.

AIOU Vice-Chancellor Shahid Siddiqui told DawnNews: “There are a lot of stigmas in our society due to which [transgender people] are shunned by society.

“By offering them free education and training, we hope to make them a part of mainstream society.”

As with other students, the courses will be distance-based.

Applications have apparently already been received from transgender candidates.

Library (Pexels)

Pakistan has granted some citizens gender neutral passports and trans people were included in this year’s census, but members of the community have often been the victims of violent crime there.

In August 2017, a transgender person was been shot dead after a gang of armed men opened fire on a group of trans people in Karachi.

In 2016, a transgender woman was shot after refusing to have sex with her attackers following a break-in.

Months later, trans rights activist Didar was shot in the hand in an incident in Peshawar.

Transgender woman Waqar Ali and trans advocate Sheraz Zaka petitioned Lahore High Court for better treatment of members of the transgender community.

And the government’s National Council for Social Welfare called for the rights of transgender people to be re-assessed following the multiple acts violence.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill was introduced to the lower house in Pakistan’s parliament earlier this year.