TWO aspects of the latest attack on transgender persons in Peshawar stand out: first, the frequency of these assaults, many of them fatal, in KP, and second, the unbridled, brandishing of weapons at ceremonies across the province that often lead to death and violence.

In this latest incident, gunmen killed one trans person and injured another. Apparently, the shooting took place just as a group of transgender performers was leaving a wedding venue after an evening’s entertainment. Gul Panra was hit fatally. A wounded Chahat was taken to hospital, reports said. According to a social activist, no less than 69 trans people have been violently killed in KP since 2015.

The figure underscores the need for greater security than has been provided to these souls who cannot be expected to build safer abodes for themselves at a distance from civilisation. They have to share the same environment that has unfortunately been poisoned by a mindset that identifies certain groups as pariahs. There is an urgent need to arrest this alarming trend that encourages the targeting of trans people before the situation worsens.

Laws have been enacted over the last few years to ensure that trans persons have the same rights as other citizens. These legal steps have been accompanied by rules aimed, in theory at least, at giving more breathing space to a group that has been traditionally discriminated against. There have been campaigns in the media highlighting how the transgender community is as capable and active as anyone if it is given the same opportunities.

Perhaps there is some change, but by and large, the old attitudes persist. The complaints that those who attack trans people are not prosecuted and punished is seen by some as part of the larger picture of a rickety justice system that lacks proper trials. But the point to ponder here is that the marginalised of Pakistan including transgender complainants are even less likely to get a fair hearing than the ‘more fortunate’ have-nots of this land.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2020

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