Washington, March 25 TV viewers in Pakistan, on March 23, saw something they had never seen before —a transgender anchor presenting the news in prime time.
Despite this giant leap, Marvia Malik, the first and only transgender news anchor in the country, said the difficulties faced by people like her in Pakistan are far from over.
“I am a journalism degree holder, but I faced the same difficulties [as] the transgender people who simply beg or dance in the streets,” Malik told VOA in a phone interview.
The most daunting task for them is getting a respectable job. But Malik said if more entrepreneurs and businesses showed more courage in breaking the social taboos as her employer, “Kohenoor News,” things can change.
“Like other trans people, I did not get any support from my family.On my own, I did some menial jobs and continued my studies. I had always wanted to be a news anchor, and my dream came true when I got selected,” she said.
Junaid Ansari, owner of the TV station, told VOA that Malik was not selected because the station wanted to make a point about breaking taboos. Ansari said he instructed his team to make the selection on the basis of merit and not gender.
There was some pushback from his team, but Ansari stuck to his decision.
“They are human beings, too, and they should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. I purely made the decision on the basis of treating all humans equally.The thought of challenging the social norms or breaking taboos did not even come to my mind,” Ansari said.
Ansari said feedback regarding Malik’s hiring has been mostly positive, though the station has received some negative feedback.