“Half an hour, every day. It takes half an hour every day to reach my work place and then another half an hour to come back, ” says Arzu while a hint of desolation is apparent in her voice.
“I cannot travel by local transport, men pick on me all the time. They call me a hijra and ask as to how Supreme Court has even allowed us to work. I have not been promoted in five years. My salary remains stagnant and my boss asks me not to dress up as a woman but I need to show them that we can work too, even if it comes with this heavy a cost, ” she continued, while talking to MangoBaaz.
On September 2, the Trans Action Alliance of KPK posted a few pictures on Facebook of their General Secretary, Arzu, while working in a government office.
People applauded the transgender woman for her courage and prayed for her safety. We did too. We all seemed excited to finally see the transgender community get what they have always deserved. However, a little investigation into Arzu’s work life revealed that life is not at all easy for her. The government job has, in fact, aggravated her problems.
More power to her! Arzu, only transgender person in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa working as govt employee.. via TransAction KP pic.twitter.com/sN3kf2LKy9
— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) September 2, 2016
Arzu was born and brought up in Peshawar. She did her Matric from Peshawar as well. When the Trans Action KPK came into being, Arzu was one of the most active members. Today, she is serving as the General Secretary of the Trans Action KPK. Five years ago, Arzu began working as a Naib Qasid or what we call Peon, at the Municipal Corporation of Peshawar.
This is how social media reacted to seeing the images of Arzu working as the only transgender in the KPK Government
— moin-ul-haq (@moinulhaq93) September 2, 2016
— Akram Malik (@AkramImnal) September 4, 2016
— GONDAL (@GondalWasif) September 3, 2016
While social media hailed the “change”, not many know what her real condition is. Here’s what Arzu told MangoBaaz:
The grade scale that she was assigned on the day of her appointment hasn’t changed till date, while her salary remains stagnant at 15,000 PKR.
Arzu lives in a rented apartment that costs her 13 thousand every month. Hence, the major chunk of her salary goes into paying her house rent while she is left with almost nothing.
Arzu quit singing and dancing because of the long working and commute hours but unfortunately, her leaving that behind has brought about a lot of other challenges for her as she struggles financially.
Arzu says that she wants to tell the world that people like her are as capable of working as everyone else.
However, the horrendous working conditions, barely minimum work wage and the condescending attitude of the people towards her have made her lose faith in this country and its people.
Back in July, Arzu’s house was set on fire by an extortion collecting gang. She had been receiving death threats by the same group, prior to the attack but the Police did not do anything, as has been the norm. Today, Arzu still suffers at the hands of the people who throw snide comments at her when she travels to her workplace. She has now stopped using public transport. Instead, she now travels by a private vehicle that costs her a fortune. At this point in time, Arzu’s only appeal to the government is regarding an increase in her pay scale and consequently, her salary.
She, too, wants to live a respectable life. That is her basic human right.
Cover Image Via: Trans Action KPK Via: Facebook