In Pakistan, parents react strongly when a transgender child is born, and in many cases they force their child to leave the home owing to the ‘disgrace’ they bring to the family. Abandoned by family and mocked by the society, transgenders live on the periphery of the society, which fails to see beyond labels.
Due to discrimination, ill-treatment and cases of sexual violence, it becomes difficult for transgender people to receive a proper education. Facing rejection from both home and school, they often run away – finding solace only in their own community. With no proper education and facing severe hatred from the people around them, they are left with no other choice but to adopt the professions others in their company have adopted – sex work or dancing.
In the famous 2009 case of Khaki v. Rawalpindi, the Supreme Court of Pakistan granted groundbreaking rights to the transgender community in Pakistan for the first time. The Supreme Court demanded detailed reports about the status of the transgender population from all the provinces. A working paper was drafted afterwards about “the need to protect the rights and welfare of hijra [transgender women] in light of the discrimination, stigma, and exclusion they suffered.”
On the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which was observed on November 20, 2018, it was reported in the media that there has been an increase in the violence cases against transgender persons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It was reported that in the last 10 days before November 20th, there were cases of three transgenders raped and videotaped in Swabi and Peshawar.
In one of the recent cases, the rape victim is reported to have said that around eleven persons t kidnapped and later raped her. She said the culprits also videotaped the rape and started threatening her that if she reported against them, they would circulate the video on social media. They later circulated the video on social media, which has led to severe stress and depression. The victim reported her case to the police and later, six perpetrators were arrested while efforts are being made to nab the remaining five.
In another recent case, a transgender from district Charsadda was kidnapped and raped. In this case too, the culprits videotaped and shared her video on social media. It has been reported that the offenders offenders were arrested.
Another transgender got registered an FIR at the Odigram Police Station in Swat. She claimed that she was kidnapped by over 20 men after performing at a musical programme and raped at gunpoint. The transgender community of Swat later staged a protest and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.
Farzana Riaz, President of Trans Association KP, told that in some cases police took action, but the culprits then easily secured the release from the police custody. She believes that this is one reason why violence and rape cases against transgender persons in KP has increased.
Arzo, who is the General Secretary of TransAction Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told Digital Rights Foundation that there have been incidents where fake IDs with names of transgenders are made and their pictures posted which receive abusive and derogatory comments. Arzo also said that it was very difficult for them to share their pictures on social media networks as people hurled abuses at them which showed the extent of transphobia in our society.
Arzo calls upon the authorities to take strict action against the people who are involved social media trolling and harassment of members of the transgender community as transgender community is suffering a lot. The authorities must also take measures to create and include transgenders in meaningful employment so that their cycle of poverty can be broken.
This blog has been written by Zeenat Khan, Member of DRF’s Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights.