APTEN expresses its concern to ECP

Election Network (APTEN) has shown dissatisfaction on the performance of Election commission of Pakistan (ECP) in facilitating transgender voters.
In a press statement issued here on Thursday, APTEN strongly believes that ECP has failed to address the concerns of transgender voters in 2018 General Elections.
The ECP has failed to understand the unique obstacles faced by the transgender voter’s which has combined aspects of legal, physical, transportation and informational barriers, among others, it added in the statement. 5 transgender candidates from all over Pakistan have contested elections and received significant attention from national and international media but transgender voters have experienced exclusion and trans-phobia at several levels.
Despite making vital inroads and claiming spaces for their voice and visibility, the transgender election observers have learned that sensitivity of polling staff and police on Trans inclusion was very poor.
While there was sensitivity on transgender issues at Islamabad level the provincial gender disability task force of ECP failed to establish a connection with transgender community and transgender rights organizations.
Transgender voter turnout remained very low , according to NADRA records, there are only 1882 transgender voters which include 11 in Islamabad, 11 in AjK, 127 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 80 in Balochistan, 338 in Sindh and 1315 in Punjab. Most of these votes are registered in their respective villages or home towns and it was not possible for a transgender community to go to these areas because of the security risks. Because most of the transgender community have their NIC as “Male” and it was not possible for them to go to the male polling stations.
These concerns were communicated well in time to ECP but they fail to take any affirmative action. Writ petition in this regard was also made in Peshawar High Court and despite several notices, the ECP failed to respond
Farzana Riaz president of TransAction and spokesperson of APTEN says that” the right to participate in political and public life is interrelated, interdependent and indivisible with other rights set out in the international conventions, Pakistan’s Transgender persons (Protection of Right) Act 2018 and provincial human rights policies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Violations of the right to participate in political and public fora can lead to violations of the enjoyment of other human rights by transgender and other non-binary gender persons”.
Qamar Naseem, a transgender rights activist and program coordinator Blue Veins said that “It is important for ECP and other government departments to take affirmative actions to include the transgender community in the political process because the transgender community can be important players in the upcoming local body elections. ECP provincial offices have a responsibility to extend their outreach to transgender community”.—APP

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