GENDER & DEVELOPMENT
FOCUS AREAS - EUNUCHS

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Inheritance Under Islamic Law

There seems to be some confusion in society, regarding the inheritance rights of eunuchs. It is important to note here that there is no dispute about the rights of inheritance of the transvestites (zenanas) or the trans-genders (nirbans; castrated men), as they are males who have been castrated or dress up like women. They are entitled to a male person’s share in their inheritance. The persons whose inheritance rights are disputed are eunuchs (khusras, hermaphrodites, or intersex individuals) because it is difficult to ascertain whether they should get the share of a male or a female under Islamic Law. It may come as a surprise to some, however, eunuchs have inheritance rights under Islamic Law.

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Supreme Court Judgements

In 2009, Aslam Khaki, the Chairman of Islamic Welfare Trust, and an attorney specializing in Islamic law, petitioned the Supreme Court of Pakistan to protect the hijra community’s constitutionally guaranteed right to equal treatment before law. The petition stressed that the rights of the hijra community were being collectively violated by their families and society in general. They are rejected by their families and discriminated, marginalized and shunned by society. They are neglected by the government and the police force maltreats and harasses them. The petition asserted that this treatment was a violation of their fundamental rights. In July 2009, the Supreme Court took up a petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, ordering all four social welfare secretaries to conduct surveys with a view to documenting the number of eunuchs across the country; and to recommend measures that would fully integrate eunuchs into the society.