Sheza Shahnawaz, a 42 year old Hijra is the Guru (leader) of the Hijra community in the deprived suburb of Agra Taj in Karachi. 

The word Hijra is an Urdu word meaning eunuch or hermaphrodite. However, most Hijras in Pakistan are gay men who leave home to join the Hijra community as young boys where there is more acceptance. Most identify themselves as more feminine then masculine and dress and act accordingly.

Although tolerated in a country where homosexuality is against the law, Hijras are largely ostracised from society. They are often denied work opportunities, rejected by most families, lack formal education and live in poorer areas of the city.

They share similarities with the more famous Hijra communities in the Indian subcontinent and Bangladesh. In a continent where great emphasis is placed on oneÕs ability to have children, those who are unfortunate not to be able to conceive children are not considered a true man or woman. Life for many Hijras in Pakistan consists of begging for alms (Zakat) in the more prosperous areas of the city as well as slums in addition to receiving alms when bestowing blessings on male babies and at weddings..

Most Hijras dress as women, and engage in activities such as dancing and entertaining in public Ð activities that would be considered inappropriate for women of the subcontinent. Some members of the community engage in prostitution. 
 (image by Jason Tanner)
Sheza Shahnawaz, a 42 year old Hijra is the Guru (leader) of the Hijra community in the deprived suburb of Agra Taj in Karachi. The word Hijra is an Urdu word meaning eunuch or hermaphrodite. However, most Hijras in Pakistan are gay men who leave home to join the Hijra community as young boys where there is more acceptance. Most identify themselves as more feminine then masculine and dress and act accordingly. Although tolerated in a country where homosexuality is against the law, Hijras are largely ostracised from society. They are often denied work opportunities, rejected by most families, lack formal education and live in poorer areas of the city. They share similarities with the more famous Hijra communities in the Indian subcontinent and Bangladesh. In a continent where great emphasis is placed on oneÕs ability to have children, those who are unfortunate not to be able to conceive children are not considered a true man or woman. Life for many Hijras in Pakistan consists of begging for alms (Zakat) in the more prosperous areas of the city as well as slums in addition to receiving alms when bestowing blessings on male babies and at weddings.. Most Hijras dress as women, and engage in activities such as dancing and entertaining in public Ð activities that would be considered inappropriate for women of the subcontinent. Some members of the community engage in prostitution.
©Jason Tanner
lightstalkers.org/jason_tanner | View all images in this gallery | Play slideshow | Feed-icon-10x10-dim Subscribe via RSS
www.jasontanner.net
Icon-previous Icon-next