Over the past few years Karachi has witnessed an exponential rise in the number of eunuchs who not only beg at traffic signals but also indulge in sex with young men for money. I have personally seen these repulsive characters negotiating with men and then getting into their cars. There was a time when these hijras used to come to houses where a baby had been born recently. They would then sing and dance and would be paid well by the men who had just become fathers. I always wondered how they knew which house had just witnessed the birth of a child, since in the fifties most women gave birth to children at home and not in hospitals. Of course, when women began giving birth in hospitals or maternity homes it was not difficult to find out the addresses of the parents of new-born babies. All it required was a one-rupee tip (a fabulous amount in those days when bank managers used to earn a hundred rupees a month).
I know some people who think that eunuchs are God’s chosen favourites and one should not be rude to them. But while I can understand that some enuchs are born that way and deserve to be pitied, I think most hijras today have either got themselves castrated or have been forcibly castrated to earn money by begging.
I did some research and found that eunuchs have been employed throughout history by kings and wealthy men to guard their wives and daughters. Some eunuchs even became close advisers to kings and enjoyed considerable influence. In Islamic history, there are a couple of cases reported. In one instance, the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) ordered a hermaphrodite exiled because he used to wear women’s clothes (a hermaphrodite is a person who is neither male nor female, in other words a born eunuch). In another instance a eunuch was describing another woman to the wives of the Prophet (saw), and Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) heard him. After that the wives of the Prophet were asked to veil themselves in the presence of the eunuch.