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Pakistan’s First Transgender News Anchor

"There is a lot of difference between the pre- and post-March 23 Marvia. It had to happen. The change had to come,"

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transgender news anchor
Marvia Malik, Pakistan's first transgender news anchor. VOA
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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.

ALSO READ: A Tale of Resilience and Courage: India’s First Transgender Judge Joyita Mondal

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
In a country such as Pakistan, it is common to mock transgender people, who are expected to earn their livelihood mainly by dancing, begging or working in the sex trade. Pixabay

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.

ALSO READ: Here’s why Being a Transgender is the biggest regret in Pakistan

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
“We had asked aspiring news presenters to come for the auditions. I got a call from one of my team members who said that one of the applicants was a transgender,” Ansari said. Pixabay

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.

ALSO READ: Is US military looking forward to recruiting transgender people?

transgender, lgbt, news anchor
In Pakistan’s Twittersphere and other social media platforms, people are praising Malik’s selection, calling it a step in the right direction. Pixabay

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Senate approved a bill for the protection of transgender rights. The bill asked the government to ensure employment opportunities and easy installment loans for transgender people.

According to the 2017 census, there are over 10,000 transgender people in Pakistan, a number some people say is much higher.

In the meantime, Malik is enjoying her instant fame.

“There is a lot of difference between the pre- and post-March 23 Marvia. It had to happen. The change had to come,” she said. VOA

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Anukreethy Vas, New Miss India, Explains Challenges Of Single Mother

Anukreethy calls herself a tomboy

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Anukreethy Vas, New Miss India World Explains Challenges Of Single Mother
Anukreethy Vas, New Miss India World Explains Challenges Of Single Mother, flickr

The newly crowned Miss India World Anukreethy Vas — who works for transgenders’ education — feels a smile keeps everyone going, something she has learnt this quality from her mother, who rose her single-handedly. The 19-year-old feels that being raised by a single mother was challenging, but being strong in every situtation kept them going.

“The challenges were there forever starting from school because I am not from a city-based place. I studied in Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) which is not really a city but I was very strong enough because my mother didn’t let me down at any point. She used to say, ‘You are a strong person. How can you cry?’ and that’s how she brought me up,” Anukreethy told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

“I have never seen her low. She has a lot of problems herself but she never showed that to me and that is how I was brought up. Even if I had something inside me, I never expressed it to other person because I feel that a smile is one thing that keeps the other person going. And this is what I learnt from her.

“She inspired me in every way and she has been a great role model,” added the beauty queen, whose mother is an IT professional named Seleena.

Single mother
Single mother, Pixabay

Anukreethy is currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts in French at Chennai’s Loyola College to become an interpreter. She is also a state-level athlete, whose aspiration is to become a supermodel. Her faith in destiny keeps her confident at all times and this reflected well while she was announced the winner on Tuesday night.

Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar crowned Anukreethy at the gala, where Meenakshi Chaudhary from Haryana was adjudged first runner-up and second runner-up was Shreya Rao from Andhra Pradesh.

Anukreethy calls herself a tomboy, loves to ride a bike, but more than that she is actively involved in giving education to transgenders.

“I work for the transgender education. There was one of my friends who was transgender in school and her family abandoned her. That struck me about this topic. I was helping an orphanage and NGO with the education of their children.

“In 2015, I associated with an NGO, and the main area of work was education of transgender children. We are now being able to adopt 30 transgenders and educate them,” she told IANS.

LGBT flag
LGBT flag, Pixabay

As of now, she is “really happy” about her victory at the Miss India contest.

“I will put my best to get the crown again,” she said, referring to the Miss World crown which Manushi brought back to India long after Priyanka Chopra won it in 2000.

So after the sudden fame, is she going to miss all the normal things that she enjoys doing?

Also read: Miss India 2016 Priyadarshini Chatterjee fights for Sexual Exploitation of a 13-year-old Girl

“Not really. I still have a normal life. My friends back home are supportive. Yes, just the responsibilities have been added, but rest is normal,” said Anukreethy, who is currently not focussed on Bollywood. (IANS)