Forced out: People who are transgender decry police discrimination

Notification issued by SHO asking them to leave Nowshera Cantt

Our Correspondent April 18, 2016
Qamar Naseem addresses a news conference regarding torture on people who are transgender. PHOTO: ONLINE

PESHAWAR: People who are transgender urged the provincial government to help them, and accused the police of harassing and torturing them. They also said police issued them notices to vacate rented houses in Nowshera Cantt.

Addressing a news conference at Peshawar Press Club  on Monday, Ashi, who was issued a notice by the police station to leave her rented house, said, “People who are transgender face discrimination not only with regards to how they are treated by society, but also with regards to how they are treated by law-enforcers.”

She said no one in the country was ready to acknowledge their gender or grant them the same civil rights and protection available to everyone else. She said police accused them of promoting vulgarity and attracting criminals to their houses and asked people who are transgender to empty their rented houses and leave the district.

“We have a right to live anywhere in the country and it is the duty of the police to protect us from criminals and [police should] stop harassing us,” Ashi said.

Other representatives also criticised the notification from Nowshera Cantt SHO, issued last week, where they were asked to leave the district within three days. They said the notification was against fundamental freedoms promised in the Constitution of Pakistan.

Ashi added, “We are particularly vulnerable in the province and have come forward to ask the government to stop police from harassing our community and support us to cope with ever increasing discrimination present in our society.”

Speaking at the news conference, TransAction Alliance President Farzana expressed her anger and disappointment over the illegal detention of her community members. “Naurang SHO Gul Hameed brutally tortured two people who are transgender—Arzu and Sana—and kept them in illegal detention.” Farzana also shared pictures of the incident with the media. She said they have also lodged complaints at police complaint cells against Hameed but so far, no action or response has been received.

Sana said, “We have faced so much trouble and are at risk from the police, family and the community; now that we have finally spoken for our rights, no cheap tactic can prevent us from claiming them.” Blue Veins programme coordinator Qamar Naseem told the media, “There was no known grass-roots level activism by those who are transgender in Pakistan.”  He added no one can assess how difficult their living conditions truly were till they spoke up.

Farzana added “People who are transgender suffer insistent discrimination in all aspects of life. They are denied housing, access to quality health care and even face difficulties in obtaining appropriate names and gender designations on their identity documents.”

The press conference was organised by TransAction Alliance President Farzana and many members of the civil society.  The briefing was addressed against police brutalities in Nowshera where officers allegedly beat some who identify as transgender and asked them to vacate the area.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2016.


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