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Byline: Zafar Aziz Chaudhry - Lahore

THIS is apropos the letter 'Dancing transvestites' (Jan 6). The Muzaffargarh police have been criticised by the writer for registering a case against four transvestites for allegedly performing 'obscene' dances at a village fair.

It is not yet known under what provisions of law the case has been registered after a delay of over 40 days, but from the photo clips widely circulating on the net, one was indeed horrified at the wanton display of obscenity which marked this occurrence.

This might be of interest to your readers to know that so far there is no law on the statute book of Pakistan to truly take stock of such wanton behaviour in public. Indecent exposure in public, however reprehensible, does not appear to be properly covered by any provisions under the Pakistan Penal Code. Section 294 of the PPC does make 'obscene acts and songs' etc., a penal offence, but 'obscenity' has nowhere been defined.

There is, however, a reference to an 'indecent exposure by a person by way of words or gestures to attract attention for the purpose of prostitution' under the Suppression of Prostitution Ordinance 1961, but that makes the act a penal offence only if the purpose is to solicit for prostitution, which does not appear to be the case in point.

It might be recalled that a few years ago, on a constitutional petition before the Supreme Court, the court had observed that obscenity or vulgarity has not been defined under the law, leaving enough room for surmises and conjectures. The question remains open to this day.

Entertainment is utterly necessary in a frustrating and sombre environment. We must be doubly conscious of the susceptibilities of our sex minority. But when we are torn between intellect and ideology, and are mortally afraid of acting according to the dictates of reason, and take nearly 40 days to decide how we should act, then it would have been better had we not taken any action at all and let the matter pass. Better to leave it as a token of solidarity with our third gender.

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Author:Zafar Aziz Chaudhry - Lahore
Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jan 14, 2016
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