ISLAMABAD: PTI’s estranged leader Ayesha Gulalai, who caused a stir by accusing her erstwhile leader Imran Khan of sexual harassment, has now invited the ire of the transgender community for making some controversial remarks against them.
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly on Monday, MNA Gulalai expressed her reservations over the PTI chief’s referring to all women of the country as ‘hamari aurtien’ (our women).
Giving context that in Pakistan, most men refer even to unrelated women with respectful terms such as their sisters, mothers or daughters, she asked why Khan used an informal term.
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“What does he think? Are the men who come to his rallies with women transgender? [Is] that [why] Imran Niazi addresses them as ‘our women’,” she questioned.
Gulalai said senior leaders like Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Jehangir Tareen called PTI workers ‘sister’ or ‘daughter’ in public rallies, but the PTI chairman only addressed them as ‘my women’.
“Does Imran Khan think our men are [transgender]?” she said.
Expressing anger over the MNA’s statement, TransAction Pakistan, an alliance working for the rights of the transgender community in the country, has threatened to stage a protest outside Gulalai’s home if she did not retract her statement and issues a public apology.
“Ayesha Gulalai should be ashamed of her statement. She has no right to degrade any community on the basis of gender identity, sexual characteristics, or expression. We ask her to take her statement back and apologise for her pathetic statement. If she does not, we will organise a protest in front of her house,” said a statement by the TransAction Pakistan.
The alliance has also registered its protest on social media, where hashtags of support have become instant hits and people from all walks of life condemned Gulalai’s statement.
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Talking to The Express Tribune, Qamar Naseem, programme coordinator, Blue Veins, Transgender Rights Activists (K-P) said, “Such derogatory remarks only spread hopelessness in the transgender community.” Nadeem Kashish, a transgender rights activist, said, “It was highly disappointing to hear the MNAs degrading the transgender community on the floor of the assembly.”
Kashish added, “Her remarks contain hatred for transgender people and give the impression that transgender [persons] are useless. She should immediately apologise and avoid passing such comments.”
Nagina, another trans person, was also “disappointed to see that none of the MNAs present reacted to Gulalai’s statement. This shows our worth in the eyes of our politicians.”