PESHAWAR: Around 45 transvestites have met violent death during the last two years while others live to face insecurity and gender discrimination in accessing basic facilities in everyday life, says Farzana Jan, the president of Shemale Association of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Farzana Jan was sitting on bedside of Alisha, 25, who was shot eight times near her one-room rented residence at Iqbal Plaza near Parda Bagh, Faqirbabad locality on Sunday night by one of her disgruntled and violent customer. In her statement to the police, Alisha identified him as Fazl Gujjar, a resident of Bakhshoo Pull.
Alisha is the fifth reported case of violence against transvestites as earlier Adnan, Sameer (Chocolate), Komal and Ayesha were also targeted. Interestingly, all these transvestites are members of Trans Action Alliance, formed by civil society and transgender of the province to raise voice for their rights.
All kinds of attempts to kill, kidnap, harass, rape and humiliate transvestites have been made by different people, said to be ‘a group of blackmailers’, who extort money from them by intimidating and abusing them, rights activists and members of the alliance say.
“These attacks started when transgender, who had been long quiet and too timid to speak up for their rights, held protests for their rights. Some anti-social elements abuse them and extort money from them,” said Qamar Naseem, a member of the Transaction Alliance.
Attendant of injured transgender narrates ordeal at hospital
The Transaction Alliance mostly comprising transvestites, who had recently held several protests against violence and demanded security, were shunned away by the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to whom they wanted to present their demands.
Qamar Naseem says that security issue of transvestites is very serious as around 300 cases of violence against transgender were detected by Blue-Veins , the organisation he works for.
“The doctors kept asking the injured Alisha if she danced only and how much she charged whereas the blood laboratory guy asked them if their blood was HIV positive or not,” said Naseem, narrating the experience of taking an injured transgender to Lady reading Hospital, one of the oldest health facilities of the province.
Badly injured Alisha was admitted to Lady Reading Hospital where she was said to be in stable condition. However, Farzana was almost teary-eyed as she described how she had to run around looking for doctors and finding a suitable ward while people, mostly attendants with admitted patients, chased her and teased her instead of helping her in the hour of need.
The male and female wards were also reluctant to have the injured transgender so the attendants including Farzana and other transvestites had to admit Alisha to a private room in Bolton Block of LRH.
Farzana said that callous people, who were either patients or their attendants, were continuously ridiculing them and laughing at them when they were going through a tragic incident.
“These people don’t laugh at us when they book us for their shows and family functions but they laugh at us when we like any human being are going through some trouble,” she said. She added that she felt belittled and humiliated when instead of helping her injured friend people were laughing at them.
“They won’t let us treat our patients or even grieve for our dead at the hospital. I felt as if I am not a human being or even not from this world when I see such inhuman behaviour of so-called Muslim people,” said Farzana.
She said that gender discrimination in access to basic facilities like health, education, profession, security to life, property and living life like any other Pakistani reduced them just to performing arts like dance and singing.
“People don’t let a transgender rent a house or portion in any decent locality. The worst is when they get sick, injured or even killed the people won’t treat them at hospital like a human being,” she added.
There are around 48,000 to 55,000 transgender in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while many still wait for their registration for national identity card.
Most of the Shemale Association members, who are more like a family of Farzana now, have been shunned by their own families. When they end up as performing artists, the customers also mistreat them and often their unjustified demands and infringement on freedom of a transgender end up in a violent encounter.
“Despite having been mistreated, raped, harassed and attacked in their own houses many of the transgender having witnessed the horror fail to speak up since they lack legal and social support,” says Qamar Naseem.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2016