For the first time ever Pakistan is set to change an age-old norm. It will be sending transgender people as part of a team of boy scouts to Saudi Arabia. The purpose of this revolutionised move is to attend the annual Islamic pilgrimage or Haj.
The Haj volunteers or as the local calls them ‘Khuddamul Hujjaj’, consist of a team of over 150 boy scouts. The transgender youth would be part of this team.
“Efforts for sending transgender youth to Saudi Arabia to serve as Khuddamul Hujjaj (volunteers during the annual Haj) are underway. At least two to three transgender persons will be selected from each of the remaining three provinces for joining the scouting community that leaves for Saudi Arabia every year, ” confirmed IPC Sindh Boys Scouts Commissioner Atif Amin Husain, quoted by Pakistan’s Express Tribune.
“The recruitment process for Khuddamul Hujjaj includes physical training and a test. After that, the PBSA sends a list of successful candidates to the Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony for a final approval,” Mr Husain further added.
According to him, recently 40 transgender youth from Sindh province have been selected in the team of the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association (PBSA) — a national scouting organization. It is also one of the largest volunteer forces in the country.
Qamar Naseem, the Programme Coordinator of Blue Veins, a transgender welfare association said, “After the recruitment of 40 transgender persons in Sindh, we are planning recruitment processes in Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan”. “This can be a game changer and can significantly improve the social acceptance of transgender youth in our society,” he added.
Husain believes that the recruitment of the transgender youth in the PBSA would open numerous progressive doors for the community including the rights to social acceptance, attaining confidence and security.