Two transgender women in Swabi district, Pakistan, are dead and another has been gang raped after they were ambushed in a field after performing at a wedding.
A group of four or five men tried to abduct all three women as they were traveling back to town but open fired on them when they refused.
Two were killed on the spot and the men then took the remaining transgender woman and gang raped her for several hours before releasing her.
The Taliban are active in Swabi district but the motive for the crime appears to be sexual rather than religious in nature.
According to an anonymous police source the suspects are a group of men who regularly patronized the group’s performances.
‘These men were fond of transgenders and used to regularly attend their music and dance shows,’ the anonymous source told AFP.
Local reports do no make clear whether the men are still at large.
Although marginalized in Pakistani society, transgender women, also known as hijras, have traditionally been sought after as performers as their presence is believed to convey blessings and good luck upon births and marriages.