The president of Pakistan’s transgender association in Peshawar, the frontier city where suicide bombers killed over 80 churchgoers last month, says her community is facing eviction and police brutality.
Farzana, who uses only one name, called a press conference in the city Thursday, after a public protest Wednesday resulted in baton-wielding policemen beating up the participants, reportedly causing some to need medical treatment for injuries.
According to Farzana, she and other members of her community, who have been living in a residential area called Imamia Colony for over a decade, are being falsely accused of immoral conduct by the residents and being coerced to leave.
On Wednesday, some of the residents allegedly came to apartment and demanded that she and a friend who was with her dance for them. When she refused, Farzana said they were abused and beaten up.
She tried to complain at the local police station but the cops too assaulted her, she said.
On Thursday, transgenders started a public protest which, Farzana alleged, was brutally broken up by police.
The local government is led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party founded by cricket celebrity Imran Khan who was the captain of the national cricket team and ex-husband of Jemimah Goldsmith, daughter of tycoon Sir James Goldsmith.
Transgenders have warned they would start protests nationwide if their rights continue to be violated.
Almost 1,500 people from the Peshawar community boycotted the elections this year since the government has yet not given them the state identity cards required for key activities like getting jobs in government offices.
The attack has been condemned by a non-profit organization, Forum for Dignity Initiatives, which said transgenders are ‘equally citizens of Pakistan and their human rights are equally important’.
Though homosexuality is a punishable offence in Pakistan with the sentence ranging from imprisonment to death, because of the influence of the Mughal and other cultures, transgenders or eunuchs have greater acceptance.
This year, Bindiya Rana hit the headlines when she contested the general elections from Karachi city, Pakistan’s finance capital. It was the first time the country had seen a trangender contestant.
It was also for the first time this year that trans youths were invited to take part in the National Youth Peace Festival in Lahore.
However, the acceptance is tinged with contempt. Trans people are often rejected by their families, have little or no education and very little employment opportunities.
Known as hijras locally, the community traditionally in South Asia ekes out a precarious life singing and dancing at weddings, births and other celebrations.
The protests came even as the government shut down Queer Pakistan, a site offering advice to the underground LGBT community, calling it anti-Islam.