Legal and Social Status of Eunuchs Islam and Pakistan

  • Rizwana Gul PhD Scholar, International Islamic University Islamabad
  • Nadia Zafar PhD Scholar, International Islamic University Islamabad
  • Shaista Naznin PhD Scholar, International Islamic University Islamabad
Keywords: Eunuch, Anatomy, Legislation, Medicine


Media interest on eunuch and their problems has blossomed over the past decade. Stories about eunuchs have been the focus of dozens of books, movies, television dramas, and documentaries. Similarly, eunuchs now has moved from being a relatively obscure topic, Examined in a handful of medical journals, to becoming the central topic of numerous books and articles in a variety of disciplines, including psychology, history, anthropology, and medical ethics. Eunuchs now a day has also become a hot topic in legal circles. In the past ten years, more than a hundred legal articles and books have included a discussion on eunuchs and their problems. Most of these publications do not focus on the issues that have a direct effect on the lives of eunuchs.

Understanding how the issues that are critical to people with such condition can be conflated with the issues affecting other people who challenge sex and gender norms requires a basic understanding of the nature of intersexuality. The meaning of the term eunuch has varied and the issue is still a topic of sometimes heated discussion. Although doctors and activists debate exactly what conditions qualify as to be called eunuch I am using the term in its broadest sense to include anyone with a congenital condition whose sex chromosomes, gonads, or internal or external sexual anatomy do not fit clearly into the binary male/female norm.

Activists working to enhance the rights of eunuch’s advocate of eliminating harmful practices based on sex and gender stereotypes. In addition, both groups seek to enhance the right to sexual self-determination. The primary focus of each group differs, however. The primary goal of the eunuch’s movement is to eliminate or decrease the number of medically unnecessary genital surgeries being performed on children with an intersex condition. Intersex advocates believe that these medical interventions often result in physical and emotional trauma. Thus, they believe that these surgeries should not be performed on children and should only be undertaken with the informed consent of patient’s parents when they reach an age at which they can fully understand the risks and can decide for themselves whether they want to undergo genital surgery. The eunuch’s activist movement is still in its infancy and is in the process of developing its advocacy strategies.

Although scholars in a variety of disciplines, including medical ethics, history, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, have published books on eunuchs, none has examined the role that the law can play in enhancing the lives of people with an intersex condition. The legal frameworks used by social justice movements that have effectively brought challenges to discriminatory practices and explores whether the eunuchs movement can form mutually beneficial alliances with these other movements and use similar legal strategies.