The tragic murder of Alesha, a prominent member of Peshawar’s transgender community, on May 26, represented bigotry and discrimination against the community at various levels. Alesha was firstly a victim of a hate crime when she was shot six times by assailants. She then became a victim again at the hands of the staff at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), which wasted precious time ridiculing her and debating whether to treat her in the male or female ward, instead of providing immediate treatment that could have saved her life. This behaviour rightly invited uproar and scorn, and while an earlier inquiry into the affair was dismissed for not being impartial, the latest investigation of the matter has laid bare the facts of what went on at the LRH and has also pinned responsibility for the bigoted treatment that Alesha received. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department has now urged the LRH’s Board of Governors (BoG) to act on the findings of the inquiry report and take action against the negligent individuals.
The report confirmed that had she received treatment sooner, Alesha could have survived. She wasn’t treated as an emergency patient and a recommendation to initiate criminal cases against the medical director, hospital director and professors of surgical and orthopaedic wards has been made. As LRH is subject to the 2015 Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms law, the government is unable to take direct action against those responsible. However, that does not mean that the hospital has blanket impunity to do as it pleases. The BoG must take action against the concerned individuals as recommended by the inquiry report. According to universal oaths, hospital staff must treat all patients regardless of their gender and socio-economic backgrounds. It is important now to set the right precedent against bigoted and incompetent behaviour so that other health establishments fine-tune their protocols in case they face a similar situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2016.