‘Kill all of us’

Murder of Alesha, a coordinator for the K-P Trans Action Alliance is a tragedy that cannot be condemned enough

Editorial May 26, 2016
Late trasngender Alesha. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

The murder of Alesha, a coordinator for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Trans Action Alliance (TAA), is a tragedy that cannot be condemned enough. The transgender community remains one of the most vulnerable groups in the country as the powers that be do not always display the will to protect them and their rights. Alesha was shot six times in Peshawar on May 22. The ordeal that transpired in the following 48 hours was literally an example of adding insult to injury — the activist died due to a negligent, ill-prepared and bigoted hospital staff, members of which kept deliberating over whether to use the male or female ward to treat Alesha, while other healthcare employees were unkind to her. And all the while, Alesha bled.

Transgender rights are invisible in Pakistan because they are wilfully ignored, despite the Supreme Court having ordered that measures be taken to incorporate the community into the mainstream. In 2012, NADRA created an option for the third gender on identity cards to facilitate transgender persons and in recent years, a few members of the community have run for local offices. However, despite court orders and some legislation to alleviate the plight of the transgender community, their dignified existence in society remains a struggle because of our bigotry and the lack of perspective for transgender members as individuals deserving of all the rights accorded to other citizens of Pakistan. The societal rejection has transformed from ostracism to now violently targeting them. This has been allowed to continue to the point where members are losing life battles in hospitals and in their activist roles because of severe antipathy towards the group. The rest of us are apathetic, just as staff at the hospital was where Alesha succumbed to her trauma. The state needs to set the right example here. It must bring the killers to justice, and provide full support to the TAA and other members of the transgender community. The provincial government must take the staff at Lady Reading Hospital to task. Discrimination and apathy towards suffering patients have no place in a hospital; they should review the Hippocratic oath. The severity of inhumane treatment towards the transgender community is realised when its members post on social media, “kill all of us”.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2016.

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Feroz | 5 years ago | Reply Very sad to see that discrimination and prejudice continues in the 21st century. In India the situation is much better with every government run education institution having an admission quota for transgenders. The stigma is definitely wearing off slowly with transgenders being elected by the people to political office. Slow progress better than no progress I believe.
Paul | 5 years ago | Reply Breaks my heart seeing her picture.
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