Nisha Rao has become an inspiration for the transgender community as she is the first transgender lawyer in Pakistan. Her journey includes endeavors from begging on roads to becoming a lawyer.
Lawyer Nisha Rao maneuvers among the throng of black-coated attorneys clustered near Karachi’s city courts searching for her client. She has gone through a long journey; from roaming on the streets to sitting in the courtroom. “I am proud to have become Pakistan’s first transgender lawyer”, Rao told Reuters.
The transgender community is often neglected, third gender persons often become victims of bullying and even sexual harassment. Also, these people rarely get dignified jobs are often seen begging on the streets and dancing.
However, the parliament just passed a law in 2018 recognizing transgender people as equal citizens and protecting them from discrimination and violence.
Rao’s life seemed to be the same as her fellows until she decided to change her fate. She decided to use her income to pay for her law classes at night.
Nisha Rao’s tiring journey has been comprehensively penned down by a Pakistani diplomat Syed Raza Hassan.
In his column published in Reuters, Raza Hassan wrote that Rao also ended up begging on the streets after running away from her middle-class home in the eastern city of Lahore when she was 18 with two other transgender persons.
Arriving in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, the elder transgender people she sought refuge with advised her to beg or become a sex worker to survive.
Hassan also wrote in his column that Rao stood at traffic lights begging from car to car but was determined to escape that path, eventually using her income to pay for law classes at night. Rao earned a law degree. She got her law license earlier this year and joining the Karachi Bar Association.
She has contested 50 cases and is working with a non-governmental organization fighting for transgender rights.
Rao has broadened her clientele to include non-transgender persons
“As my case pertains to harassment, I feel that Rao can represent me best since transgenders are subjected to frequent harassment in our society,” said Jeya Alvi, 34, an office secretary meeting Rao for a consultation.
On the other hand, diplomat Syed Raza Hassan has also mentioned the status of the transgender community in Pakistan. He wrote in his column published in Reuters that A 2017 census counted 10,418 transgender people out of 207 million in the country, but rights group Charity Trans Action Pakistan estimates there are at least 500,000.
“Rao used to beg here along with us, today she is better than many. But she still helps us, she even responds at midnight (if we contact her),” said Nayab, a transgender beggar.