Pakistani university offers free education for transgender community

Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU)
Updated 24 November 2017
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Pakistani university offers free education for transgender community

ISLAMABAD: A leading university in Pakistan is offering free education for the transgender community, in a bid to promote inclusion and opportunity for the marginalized group.
“Our university education system is based on distance learning, so they can get the education without coming to classrooms, and avoid possible taboos attached to them,” Dr. Shahid Siddiqui, vice chancellor of the Islamabad-based Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), told Arab News.
Through this free education program, the AIOU will try to “return their self-respect and dignity.”
The Forum for Dignity Initiatives (FDI), a Pakistani NGO working for the rights of gender and sexual minorities, lauded the decision.
“This is a positive, welcome and much-needed step by the AIOU,” Uzma Yaqoob, founder and executive director of FDI, told Arab News, adding that the transgender community was never given such an opportunity before in Pakistan.
“The transgender community has a great desire to acquire and complete their education. I’m sure they’ll make use of this offer.”
In June, for the first time, Pakistani authorities granted third-gender passports after legally recognizing transgender people in 2009.
The transgender community has been registered with a separate identity for the first time in the country’s 2017 population census.
According to preliminary census data released by the government, there are 10,418 people in Pakistan. But some advocacy groups say the actual figure is half a million or more.
Since being legally recognized in 2009, transgender people have the right to possess identity cards and to vote. But despite this, the community continues to face challenges and even attacks by extremists.


Woman blows herself up in Chechen capital Grozny — RIA

A Chechen Interior Ministry servicemen stands guard at the site of the counter-terrorism operation, near a local media building known as the Press House, in the Chechen capital Grozny, in this December 4, 2014 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 min 6 sec ago
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Woman blows herself up in Chechen capital Grozny — RIA

  • The wider North Caucasus region remains volatile, however, with unemployment and corruption pushing some young men to embrace radical Islam

MOSCOW: A young woman blew herself up on Saturday near a police checkpoint in the Chechen capital Grozny in southern Russia but nobody else was killed or injured, RIA news agency said.
Police asked her to stop and present her documents but when she refused to obey they saw she was carrying a home-made explosive device. They fired a warning shot and she detonated the device, Interfax news agency reported.
The once restive province of Chechnya has been mostly calm in recent years under the iron rule of regional strongman Ramzan Kadyrov after Moscow fought two wars with separatists in the 1990s and 2000s following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
However, in August militants staged a series of attacks on police targets in Chechnya and Daesh claimed responsibility, without providing any evidence.
The wider North Caucasus region remains volatile, however, with unemployment and corruption pushing some young men to embrace radical Islam.