Pakistan’s Tax-Collecting Transsexuals

“It is commonly and, I believe, accurately said of Pakistan that her women are much more impressive than her men.” —Salman Rushdie, Shame

In A Nutshell

Faced with one of the lowest income tax filing rates in the developed world, Pakistan has had to resort to extreme measures to increase revenue. One of their ideas involves shaming tax evaders by sending transsexuals to their doors, in order to shame them into paying since transsexuals carry a stigma in the country. The program has been shown to be successful, bringing back over 10 times the original cost.

The Whole Bushel

With a revenue shortfall of nearly $5 million, a group known as the Clifton Cantonment board decided to put forth what has been called the “nuclear option” in order to collect taxes from those who refuse to pay. Utilizing an underrepresented (and often persecuted) group of people known as “hijras” or “TGs,” they began using shame and embarrassment in order to convince the delinquents to mend their ways.

As a whole, Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of income tax collection in the developed world, with only about a million Pakistanis paying their share, out of 170 million. Transsexuals face persecution in the country, as they do in many others, and it can get quite extreme in some cases. (A group of transsexual wedding dancers was raped by police in 2009, prompting a number of legal changes designed to expand their rights.)

Many transsexuals turn to prostitution as a last resort, as the stigma they face hinders their ability to live a normal life. However, the stigma is being put to good use in this case, as the tax evaders often pay up, rather than deal with their neighbors’ stares. So far, the program has been extremely successful, bringing back 10 times its original investment; however, it is just a small drop in the bucket compared to the shortfall the country faces.

Show Me The Proof

NY Times: Pakistan Hires Transgender Workers to Shame Tax Delinquents
The Guardian: Pakistan’s tax dodgers pay up when the hijra calls

  • Hillyard

    Good article. Pakistan is a very screwed up country.

    • Eyan Khan

      But what country isn’t?

      • Hillyard

        Point made. I should have written more screwed up than the average country. (What ever the hell an average country is.)

        • “More screwed up than strictly necessary.”

          • Eyan Khan

            As a Pakistani myself i can second that.

    • Ayesha K

      Don’t think it is any more screwed up than the superficial “mighty big powers”.

      • Arthur Cohen

        “mighty big powers” is that from Clausewitz or Kissinger? lol. you obviously have no clue on the subject. Live in Karachi for a month and find out what screwed up is…

        • Arthur Cohen

          you probably don’t know what Karachi is… its a city in Pakistan. and for evidence of how screwed up it is over there google “chi boy”

          • Eyan Khan

            Ever been to Detroit or NY ?? Just recently i read a report of human trafficking in San Francisco so what about that huh?? Yes Karachi has problems but other cities like Delhi,NY etc are just as screwed up!!And regarding child molesting if that is what your presuming at well we have had incidents here but tell me what country hasn’t??

          • Arthur Cohen

            I think you’ll find that “chai boys” are prevalent amongst Pakistani elite as well. Also yes pederasty may exist in other countries but it is institutionalized and accepted widely within the army and local police forces. I wouldn’t say the same for Detroit or New York. Also Karachi is a highly fractionalized city where political parties merged with violent street criminals control distinct neighbourhoods and there is little to no federal exercise of power. Have you ever been to Karachi it makes even downtown Chicago look like paradise.

          • Eyan Khan

            Yes how did you achieve all that, oh yeah right by screwing every other country..Hmm something to be proud of indeed! Pakistan is screwed up in a societal way big time no kidding but there are deep layers to how screwed up America is as a country. Btw Arthur ever been to Pakistan?I can confirm your “concepts” and completely off base and wrong. There is a lot wrong with Pakistan but Pederasty is neither institutionalized in Pakistan,and it as prevalent as slavery is in America. By reading a few articles on the internet you can’t judge a whole country and its society I suggest you take a much deeper and inside look.Internet is a perfect place for exaggeration, just search Hitler and you’ll get hundreds of things he didn’t do.Get off your high horse man and lets not get started on the “AMERICAN ACHIEVEMENTS” your so proud of.

          • Arthur Cohen

            I wont apologize for the west and I don’t think Pakistan or any other nation has any moral high ground to judge any other. Been twice to Pakistan and I can tell you I would rather live in Detroit any day. Ever been to the West-Zone in Karachi? I have there was building to building combat going on between Awami nationalists and another ethnic political gang we couldn’t leave the car. and if you want to talk about screwing up other countries the damage the Pakistani ISS does to the stability of Afghanistan is a good place to start….

          • Arthur Cohen

            The Pakistani government doesn’t even have firm control over its whole territory… how is this even a debate? The article itself is a testament to the essential dysfunction of the government as a whole. I judge a nation by its civic achievements of which Pakistan has almost none. there is no civil society in Pakistan its a nation propped up by fear, hate, and international aid.

          • Arthur Cohen

            btw… international aid which it extorts from the world through fear of instability in a nuclear power.

          • Arthur Cohen

            It is a nation in which the government and people have no social contract at all. These were principles the developed in the 18th century… Pakistan’s military is the only true and consistent political force in the whole country and they have little regard for their populace.. a fact which has been demonstrated time and time again as the army stages coup after coup. I don’t see that in America do you?

          • Eyan Khan

            Yes military regimes that the US and the West embraced with strong arms…this speaks volumes for the American Civic society who love to support oppressor….well all i gotta say is Kudos..you guys a wild sense of justice..i would rather be a barbarian than have your sense of justice!!

          • Arthur Cohen

            Your rant about the cold war isn’t really relevant to our discussion. Also the typo I made with ISS and ISI is a cheap shot. The argument was about where is more screwed up place currently America or Pakistan and you have not made any convincing argument in Pakistan’s favour. What really made this argument hot were your thoughtless comparisons of life in America for anyone being anything close to that of a Somali during the war. You might have a point about America’s 200 years and yes I think Pakistan deserves a chance too. But there is no effective force working to promote civil society in Pakistan at the moment. Whatever your thoughts on what is just.. America is a land of laws and Pakistan is not.

          • Arthur Cohen

            Also you compared Karachi to New York and Detroit…. I think that speaks a lot louder of your lack of knowledge than my misplace letter

          • Guest

            quote from you above “the greatest societies are great only when the people come together to support the right and band together against what is wrong and unjust” we banded together and fought to restore peace to Europe in WW2… and than after the war we stayed and rebuilt Britain, France and most importantly Germany our former enemy. Would Pakistan rebuild a defeated India? that’s a question to think about on YOUR moral high horse

          • Eyan Khan

            and then you screwed Chile and alot of other countries to protect your “Peace”.

          • Arthur Cohen

            ya your right that peace wasn’t worth protecting….???… again you haven’t acknowledged anything I’ve said you’ve just brought up another example from the Cold War. As for Chile and the rest of the proxy wars of the Cold War hindsight is 20/20… both America and the Soviet union were imperialists and fear of the domino effect was real.

          • Arthur Cohen

            you also didn’t address whether or not you see political parties shooting it out in American cities as you definitely see in Karachi.

          • Arthur Cohen

            Also about your comment on what makes a great society… Pakistan is definitely not banding together to support what’s right against the wrong.

          • Arthur Cohen

            And just one last also… Osama bin Laden happened to be like one mile away from the Pakistani equivalent to West Point… they might have been harbouring the murderer of thousands.. from their supposed allies… shamelessly… again maybe (sarcasm)

          • Eyan Khan

            First of all it’s ISI this just goes to show your Knowledge,Please go read the complete history of AF-Pak relations, The Soviet invasion and the US role in the resistance it before you comment then again seeing your knowledge of Pakistan i feel having an argument with you is pointless…remember it took the US about 200 years to get its society together and to integrate itself as a nation and it achieved this by screwing alot of others..My point is give Pakistan the chance it deserves..Pakistan has alot of things wrong in it I am not gonna lie but atleast don’t comment without having full knowledge…We humans have a bad of taking something that is bad and presenting it as the worst..this has been seen all through out history..I am sorry to say but Americans are best at following stereotypes and exaggeration…your comments regarding Pederasty and its widespread prevalence in Pakistan is complete bullshit!!

            Back to topic regarding transsexuals well tell me in one country where life for them is easy or don’t habe to face shit..Pakistan gov has been a failure in a lot of aspects but what it has done is help the transsexuals a lot it has given them both jobs,they even have their own quota of seats in the parliaments and thousands of jobs and they can mention them transsexuals in their ID cards etc….Their treatment is not perfect but they have been treated better then in most countries..the media has also helped them by giving them coverage from time to time..and like i said the public opinion is changing as seen in the elections recently through education(thankgod)!!

          • Eyan Khan

            As for international aid…..well remember the Resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan which led to the fall of the Soviet regime in which Pak played the key role and America and the west’s greatest contender collapsed…How much did America benefit form that?? But for Pakistan it proved to be a deal with the devil,but again sighting your lack of historical knowledge regarding the matter it would be pointless to explain it all to you..but know this there was a huge influx of refugees then still number more then 2 million to this day.

          • Eyan Khan

            And yes you are right lets not belittle the achievements of American society i mean come on it is after all one of the slowest societies to get the concept that being white doesn’t make you superior to everybody else,, Even as far as the 1980s if i were black or hispanic living in America it would have been better to be born in the war torn Somalia..Oh and lets not even go to racism and the American south!!

          • Arthur Cohen

            really being black in the 80s in America was worse than being in war torn Somalia.. are you kidding with that analogy? I think you’ll find the history of ethnic difference and conflict in Pakistan to be much more deeply entrenched in their society than race was ever entrenched in American society.

          • Arthur Cohen

            Have you ever been to New York lol? I don’t think you can be seriously comparing New York to Karachi

          • Eyan Khan

            OH and yes Pakistan is screwed up and has alot of problems but it has shown remarkable progressiveness in some aspects.In the recent elections we had a transsexual contender who did receive both alot of support, media coverage and a positive response.

          • UN

            i’ll sugget you should google it again since “bacha baazi” is linked to Afghanistan rather than Pakistan.

          • Andrew Coll

            try the vice documentary too !

  • Rapists should be strung up by the nuts.

    • Eyan Khan

      Especially when they are law enforcers themselves!!!

      • If you can’t trust the law, what then?!

    • The sodomite slayer

      Not only sodomites, but their defendants like all ya here, should be set alight (alife). I would be happy to do it with thousands of ya.

  • Hadeskabir

    Usually the people who work in the IRS department are so boring, this is a hilarious way to make people pay their taxes.

  • jihadgod

    Trannies should be hung by the nuts.. Finish the transition?

    • Scott

      I once licked a tranny’s nuts.

  • khan

    I am Pakistani and I call this BS article. It was printed in NY times and The guardian so your proof is stupid. First of all no one thinks that Transexuals in Pakistan are stigma. Pakistani Govt has given them all the rights as other genders, they even have a right to mention their gender as transexual in their citizenship card. I don’t think any other country in the world has given this right to any trans genders .As far using them to collect tax which this article is highlighting is not true. Pakistani Govt has given thousands of jobs to transexuals in many Govt fields like Passport offices, Income tax , citizenship and immigration etc. They have their own quota of seats in Federal and provincial Parliament and I am not saying Pakistani Govt is so clean and know they are frikkin corrupt just like other countries in the world and them being raped by police, I think those cops should be hung to death. But mind you every community has blacksheeps just like US and other countries. Just few days ago bunch of cops killed a homeless man in US for no frikkin reason but you can’t judge the entire country because of few blacksheeps. YES Pakistan is a screwed up country atm and it’s because we helped US to attack Afghanistan and wherever US troops are landed that country is surely screwed up.

    • Arthur Cohen

      your right we shouldve just let the taliban run Afghanistan (sarcasm).

  • Garu Derota

    This is disgusting. Transexual people can’t be exploited by the very same country that stigmatize them. Pakistan must be really a fucked up place..

  • UN

    “clad not exactly as a boy but, rather confusingly, as the boy I would have been, had I been more of a girl”


    Sarah Waters,

    Tipping the Velvet

  • Marozia

    Well, someone has to do it!

  • Jhale

    This article stretches itself a little too far with the examples of prostitution. What was exactly the point of bringing it up?