Harassment In Murree: Have We Failed The Transgender Community Once Again?

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The transgender community is a severely marginalized community in Pakistan. No proper records exist but it is estimated that there are 500,000 transgenders in a population of 190 million. Not only have they been struggling to be granted basic civil rights but also acceptance, respect and opportunities. The lack of these things forces the transgenders in Pakistan to live in secluded areas and groups. They face severe poverty and resort to singing, dancing, begging or prostitution to make ends meet. However, in the recent years, there have been some changes that seemed like a ray of light.

Changes For The Betterment of Transgenders

  • 2009: Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognise a third sex. This allowed transgenders to get identity cards mentioning a third gender for the first time.
  • 2011: They were granted the right to vote.
  • 2012: They were awarded the right to register as a third gender on their national ID cards. The Supreme Court also declared equal rights for transgender citizens including the right of inheritance after the death of parents, job opportunities, free education and health care.
  • 2013: Four transgenders including Bindia Rana stood up in the elections for the first time ever.
  • January, 2017: It was announced that the transgender community will be part of the 2017 census.
  • June, 2017: The government issued its first third-gender passport to a transgender activist, Farzana Riaz, in Peshawar. Riaz, 30, is the co-founder and president of rights organization TransAction.

 

 

  • Apart from these governmental measures, several non-government bodies and activists are also attempting to improve the living conditions of the transgender community. Such groups include the Gender Interactive Alliance.

The Media Plays Its Part, Too

Additionally, the media industry has been trying to showcase the plight of the transgenders through a few short films and shows.  In 2016, for the first time in the history of Pakistani TV, a drama serial called Khuda Mera Bhi Hai was aired. It was solely about a transgender’s life in the Pakistani society. It aimed to highlight the difficulties faced by transgenders and how the society makes their survival close to impossible. The serial definitely helped people understand their situation by showing the story from the other side of the bridge. Accordingly, it was a huge success:

The Ground Reality, However, is Still Troublesome

On the other hand, the transgender community is still struggling to have a normal life in this country. Time and again there have been incidents of violence against them. To make matters worse, they are often refused help from paramedical staff, hospitals and even the police. A couple of days ago, a young man named Faris Qureshi revealed a disturbing video of transgender harassment on Facebook.

Transgender Harassment on Eid in Murree

Faris, who is from Islamabad, was in Murree for his Eid holidays. He, like many other tourists, was outdoors when he came across a mob of people who were cornering and harassing two transgenders who were present there. Here’s the video:

Faris wrote, “I have tried my best to capture the scenes of intense harassment of two transgender people by dozens of retarded ass hol** last evening – second day of Eid at Mall Road in Murree Hills. These illiterate morons were constantly following them, harassing, making fun of them, passing negative comments and staring at them constantly. God knows from which part of the country they came for holidays but they made it unendurable for these trans people to witness the Mall Road and do shopping on this day of religious festival.

This video is a clear picture that how the transgender people are being treated in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Although they have all the legal rights but the society has deep-rooted hatred for sexual minorities.

P.S. these goons were not locals. All of them were tourists.”

 

Negative Reactions Poured In

People expressed their anger and grief at this harassment. However, many criticized the reporter himself for not stepping up to help the victims. Faris then replied, explaining why he had to choose to be a bystander.
“Many people are criticizing me over the internet that why I did not step in to help. I really wanted to help out these people. How could I indulge my self among dozens of Hooligans and jahils when I was alone? Pakistani awam especially this kind isn’t something you should just go and indulge with especially when you are alone. Many incidents happened in the past where someone who tried to do the right thing was just beaten violently or get killed by mob.”

Exclusive Interview With Daily Punch

We reached out to hear more from this man. In an exclusive interview with Daily Punch, Faris told us how it had started and what happened afterwards.
“This incident happened on June 27, 2017 – second day of Eid around 11:30 p.m. Al the goons were tourists, not local. Many people said they were only Pathans. No, its wrong. There were Punjabis and Pathans both and young boys as well. It is so shameful and worrying that where Pakistani youth is heading. There was no police over there. But some people later helped them and took them to nearby police room. I think it was 15 or something. They could not enjoy the holidays, could not hangout in Mall Road. Surely, They returned to their hotel or from wherever they came from.
Wo bechare kharcha kar ke aaye, paisa laga ke Murree aay ghomnay. Aur en logo ne unhain ghomnay nahi diya.
One of my friends, Inaya (also a transgender) from Islamabad has faced the same situation when she visited Murree few years ago. She told me she would never go to Murree again.”

Did Anyone Step Forward to Help Them?

Faris reported, “There was only one man who stepped to save them. But there were dozens who were following them and doing all this.”
We then asked him how the police reacted. To which, Faris said, “The police was not there and that man helped to get them to the police station. The transgenders wanted to register a complaint but nobody was there to listen to them. No police officer came outside and they did not let them inside either. You can see in the 2 pictures, they are sitting outside of police room.”

Then he shared the following pictures:

19551771_10211979346712382_1206907905_o transgenders

When asked whether they received at help at all, he said, “They kept sitting outside of police 15 room. All the jahils were over there, still making comments. They were staring as if these transgenders were aliens. Unfortunately, I had to leave. So I don’t know what happened next. However, judging from the scenario, I am sure that they went back without any police help. Their simple wish to enjoy Eid at Murree was brutally ruined.”

Sorry, Not Sorry?

This is the harm that the mob mentality causes. It stops people from standing up for the right thing due to the fear of facing extreme consequences. Moreover, somebody reported this incident. Surely, there must be many more which go unreported.
Also, apparently many people have not yet realized that transgenders are humans just like everybody else. They also have wants and needs, emotions and feelings. And it is a criminal and moral offense to bully, harass or tyrannize them. Giving them a hard time just because God made them different is extremely and totally unacceptable. Once again, we have failed the transgender community. Once again, some of us terrorized them and the others failed to save them. Once again, not many seem concerned or apologetic.
This negative attitude and injustice towards transgenders need to stop immediately. Period.

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