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Karachi’s transgender community protest rise in hate crimes

Patrick Kelleher December 8, 2018
Pakistan's transgender community protest against hate crimes

Trans activists demonstrate in Peshawar, Pakistan (A.MAJEED/AFP/Getty)

Members of the transgender community in Karachi, Pakistan, have gathered to stage a protest against the rise in anti-trans hate crimes in the city.

The protesters staged a demonstration as they say police are not listening to them.

A transgender activist called Sarah Gill told the Express Tribune that the police in Karachi “is not taking issues concerning the transgender community seriously.”

“Whenever we go to them to register our complaint of any incidence of violence, we are refused our right of lodging [a first information report (FIR)],” she said.

Gill also suggested that violence against trans people in Karachi is not even considered to be violence.

“We have to post our videos on social media to draw media and police attention to highlight our plight and seek justice,” she added.

Another transgender activist told the Express Tribune that there have been 10 to 15 cases of violence against trans people in Karachi so far this year.

She also accused the police of illegally arresting members of the transgender community, and called on the government to help improve employment opportunities for trans people.

At yesterday’s demonstration in Karachi, activist Shahzadi Rai said they had reported incidents in the past to police, but that the police hadn’t taken action against perpetrators.

Transgender community gathers to protest hate crimes in Pakistan
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty

Rai added that they wanted to see police take immediate action against the perpetrators of hate crimes against the trans community.

Hate crimes, violence and discrimination in Pakistan

Trans people in Pakistan can face violence and discrimination, and many have been the victims of hate crimes.

In September, Trans Action Pakistan posted a graphic video online of a transgender woman who had been burned to death in a horrifying hate crime.

Media reports at the time said that the woman – who was not named – had been taken to a remote area by four cisgender men.

The men allegedly attempted to sexually assault her, and when she resisted, they set her on fire.

Reports say that she had burns on up to 80 percent of her body and that she was rushed to hospital, however she died while being transported.

Shortly before that hate crime, the trans community also staged a demonstration in Peshawar after another member of their community was murdered.

Nasir Naso had been tortured before her death, and her body was later discovered in a sack.

Earlier this year, another trans woman was attacked by a group of armed men, who beat her up and proceeded to shoot her dead.

Being transgender in Pakistan

Recent moves have been taken to improve the standing of transgender people legally in Pakistani society.

The country introduced legislation earlier this year protecting trans people from discrimination in employment, healthcare, housing and on public transport.

The country also issued their first passports with a separate gender X category last year, which allows trans citizens to self-identify under a third gender category.

Five trans women also recently ran for election in Pakistan, however local media reported that dozens of people in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region were barred from casting their votes as their identity cards didn’t match their gender identity.

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