Trans women in a small Pakistani city have accused police of illegally confiscating their sound system.
Dancing at weddings and other special occasions is often the only way trans women can earn an income in Pakistan. The community often face discrimination by employers.
The women in Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan) argued taking away their sound system has prevented them making money.
DI Khan is located in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province where trans women face high levels of violence and murder. But it is also where the first trans sports day was held and where trans women received drivers licenses in their true gender for the first time anywhere in Pakistan.
‘We’ll end up begging on the streets’
Speaking at a media conference, Laila, the head of trans advocacy in DI Khan asked police to return the sound systems.
‘If they (Government) cannot provide us jobs, they have also no right to snatch our source of income from us,’ Laila said, according to a statement on Facebook.
‘We will abandon dance performances if the government provides us decent jobs.’
Laila warned many trans women will end up begging for money in the streets if they cannot dance.
KP’s Prohibition of Dancing Act, bans dancing by women in public places for money. But that law does not include trans women who are recognized as a ‘third gender’.
Police may target people using sound systems at functions under the Loudspeaker Act. But the trans community said police only ban their events.
Despite the violence and discrimination, Pakistan is regarded as a leader when it comes to trans rights. Trans people can register as a third gender on passports, national ID cards, and in some places on drivers licenses.
The country also has comprehensive legislation to protect trans people. It recently increased penalties for those who discriminate or carry out violence against them.
In the Sindh province, a new bill has been drafted which will make it illegal to harass trans people in the workplace.