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Citizen Voices

Pakistan’s Transgender Persons Continue Facing Humiliation, Brutality And Violence

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The community of transgenders has suffered insults and injuries by society since the 19th century. Long before that, they had served as integral members of the royal courts, as they acted as “security” for kings and queens and had the privilege of entering into regal company even in their private quarters.

During the early 1800s, the British started discriminating against the “khwajasiras” and ousted them from the position they held in the royal courts. The seeds of discrimination and cruelty that were laid at that time continue to hurt the khwajasiras to this day.

In their own homes, workplaces, schools and colleges, whenever anyone from the transgender community has made it to one of these places, they face humiliation and harassment. When parents find out that one of their children is transgender, they immediately try to marry them off. Desperate transgender persons escape their houses amid all the hostility they suffer. Some attempt suicide and a large majority have no other resort than to sell their bodies or to beg to keep alive.

Transgender people keep on enduring denials of primary liberties and episodes of savagery. Even the religious consciousness of people works against them, rather than helping them. Their mobility is frowned upon as it is viewed as un-Islamic for a “lady” to move before men. Muslim transgender individuals frequently complain of being offended and derided and halted from entering mosques.

Last month in Pakistan, transgender model Rimal Ali was assaulted by a person named Jahanzeb Khan. She was tortured and raped by the attacker. This led to a protest by human rights activists in front of the parliament building in Islamabad, where Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari gave assurances that steps will be taken against the attacker and that legal aid will be provided to Rimal Ali. Yet, even after many days, Jahanzeb had not been arrested. By the end of January, there was still no information about Jahanzeb. Meanwhile, Rimal joined PTI, saying she has joined it in “vengeance”.

In 2020, Human Rights Watch published a report in which they stated that Pakistan’s penal code continues to place men who have intercourse with men and transgender individuals in danger of police abuse and other violence and discrimination. At least 65 transgender persons have been assassinated in KP since 2015, it claims.

Also in January, the body of a 45-year old transgender person Guddu was discovered by police at a house in Clifton, Karachi. The police said the body carried torture marks as if wolves had killed her. On the same night, a scuffle broke out between transgender people and the police in Chiniot, Punjab. Wielding mallets, the transgender persons yelled “Police are thieves” and injured a constable.

In April 2020, Musa, a 15-year-old transgender child, was assaulted and slaughtered in Faisalabad. In July, an unidentified shooter in Rawalpindi executed Kangna. An anonymous attacker lethally shot Gul Panra, a transgender activist in Peshawar, in September.

Infringement of common freedoms and separation based on sex are pervasive in Pakistan and pose a crucial test. The transgender community is especially unfortunate in this regard as it faces considerably more shame, detachment, and brutality than other groups who face discrimination. They face various types of severe abuse, from being excluded from society all the way to being raped and murdered. The need for redressal in the society’s treatment of trans individuals and the affirmation of their essential common liberties is absolutely necessary. Public authorities should take measures to address the significance of this issue.


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Naya Daur