Nowshera Police Order Transgender To Vacate The District

The district police of Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkha (KP) province has ordered the externment of the transgender community for an indefinite period. The order will affect more than 1100 transgenders who are scattered throughout the district.

Nowshera’s District Police Officer (DPO), a fundamentalist and extremist, issued the order of kicking out the transgender community from the district on July 16, two days after police officials of the city police station sexually abused seven transgender individuals in illegal detention.

The DPO was educated at the infamous Islamic Madressa (seminary), Haqqania, which is known for providing training to the Taliban militants and their leadership. The seminary teaches holy war for the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan.

Leaflets were widely distributed in Nowshera, suggesting the local population to boycott all interactions with the transgender community, to not rent houses to them, and to immediately evict them from their homes. The leaflets further note that these directives have been issued on the orders of the DPO, and the police will support any such evictions and actions.

The reason for the police’s anger against the transgender community emerged after Blue Veins, an organisation working on transgender rights, complained to the Human Rights Directorate about the illegal detention and sexual abuse by the police of July 14. The Human Rights Directorate was established under the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Act 2014, wherein any person can complain about rights violations by public officials. The Director of the Directorate has power equivalent to a high court judge.

When the Director summoned the Station House Officer (SHO) of City police station, Nowshera city, and enquired about the abuses of transgender on July 25, SHO Inspector Khalid revealed that a campaign against the transgender is strongly run by Jamat-e-Islami, a political party in the provincial coalition government. Khalid angrily noted that since the provincial government is behind the move against the transgender, why are the police being questioned about the illegal detention.

The police’s act of forcibly evacuating the transgender community and asking the local populace not to rent property to them is a direct violation of Articles 23 and 24 of Pakistan’s Constitution. The state’s discrimination against the transgender is a contravention of Article 25, which enunciates the state’s duty to ensure equality of citizens, regardless of their gender identity, faith and ethnicity. The state has no right to arbitrarily arrest any citizen, and harassing the transgender is both constitutionally and morally unwarranted.

dancing_hijra_copyViolence against hijras (transgenders) and their defenders is increasing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The province population mainly follows conservative tribal values, and thus the transgender community often finds it difficult to survive, let alone stand up for their rights.

In 2016, 17 cases of violence, threat, and harassment have been reported, but as many cases of abuse go unreported, this number is not a true reflection of the torture suffered by the community. Police often act as silent spectators in such abuse, if not as the perpetrators. The transvestites complain of suffering more torture at the hands of law enforcement agencies, than any other group.

In a case of police excess against the community on March 20, 2016, a peaceful social gathering of transgenders organized by TransAction Alliance was attacked in Haripur by the police. The transgender were brutally beaten and the gathering was stopped. More than 20 transgenders including their activists were injured and their valuables were snatched by the police. The incident was reported to higher authorities, but no action has been taken.

TransAction Alliance, being the only advocacy group of the transgender community, has been at the receiving end of threats by conservative political parties, law enforcement authorities and other government employees.

Clip_28On February 9, Riaz alias Farzana, President of the Transgender Alliance, received a call showing “Private Number”. The caller threatened Farzana to stop her advocacy efforts for the rights of transgender and stick to the entertainment business, and if she does not listen, she will invite lots of problems which she and her friends will not be able to handle. The caller also told her not to play in the hands of NGOs and stay away from causing bad name of the country.

Transvestites are also prone to sexual violence. On February 4, 2015 press secretary of the Alliance, Komal, was attacked by around 20 people. Her hair was chopped off and the attackers attempted to rape and film her, but were not able to do so because of her resistance.

Clip_17Religious groups are also not far behind in persecuting the transgender community. On Feb 24, 2016, the house of Arzu, a transgender rights defender, was attacked by a mob of more than 30 people belonging to Jamate Islami. Despite footage of the attack shown to the police, they refused to take action against the attackers.

The transgender community in Pakistan is even denied their right to freedom of thought and expression over the internet and social sites like Facebook. On April 18, 2016, the District Coordinator of TransAction Alliance, Sana, alias Raees, was unlawfully detained by the Station House Officer of Norang police station after she posted pictures of police torture on social media. Sana was detained on the highway after she updated her location on Facebook, stating that she is going to Peshawar for a press conference. She was tortured and threatened by the police that they will shoot her if she does not stop sharing her story with the media. Since then, Sana is unable to go back to Norang area.

There are an estimated 500,000 ‘third-gender’ citizens in Pakistan, yet these transgender literally have no rights in the country. It wasn’t until 2012, during the tenure of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammud Chaudary, that the trans community got the right to vote and inheritance. Though the landmark judgement opened doors for the community, sadly the judicial order was reduced to paper and never implemented at the state level. Similarly, although the government announced a 2% quota in the state departments for transgender employment, the state has yet to fulfil its promise.

The state must play its role in protecting the beleaguered community, as required by article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which envisages equality of all citizens regardless of their gender.

The 25-year-old transvestite Alesha, an activist and a coordinator at TransAction KP province, was shot eight times on May 22, 2016, by a gang of extortionists who force the community members to make porn videos.

Following the attack, Alesha was immediately rushed to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, the city’s largest state run hospital. Even though Alesha was listed to be in critical condition, hospital authorities kept her waiting, untreated, for over one hour, while they decided whether to bring her to the male or female ward. Despite TransAction’s requests, she was taken to the male ward, but under the group’s protest, Alesha was switched to the women’s ward, where the other patients complained. Injured and bleeding, Alesha was constantly harassed by the hospital staff. Instead of giving her prompt medical care, doctors and staff asked her how much she charged for a one night dance, and whether she performed sex as well.

Clip_25The next day, May 24, Alesha was operated on and the doctors had forewarned that Alesha has only a slim chance of surviving. For post op care, Alesha needed to be in the ICU, but the hospital couldn’t find a bed for her. She was left on a movable stretcher in the hospital’s corridor.

The hospital administration then told Alesha’s friends that they cannot put her in either the male or female wards, and that they will have to hire a private room. Alesha’s friends managed to acquire an expensive private room after many hours of struggle.

On May 25, Alesha died, succumbing to her injuries at the hands of the gang as well as the hospital staff who discriminated against her.

Alesha died in LRH because she never received intensive medical attention.

A group of transvestites carried Alesha’s body to the Faqirabad police station for a demonstration. They demanded that the state and society’s discriminatory attitude towards the community must be stopped. Alesha is KP’s fifth transvestite casualty of 2016. Alesha’ s death has underscored the discrimination against the trans community in Pakistan. Please see the following link;