PESHAWAR: While the outgoing year was not as bloody as some years in the recent past, 2017 was regardless no less kind to members of K-P’s transgender community.
There were at least 208 cases of violence recorded against the few people who identify themselves as transgender in the province. At least five members of the community were also murdered.
While the gruesome killings made the headlines, activists fear that most cases of violence were never even reported to the police or even to rights activists, meaning that the true figure of violence against people who are transgender may be far higher.
The lack of reporting to police could in part be explained by the fact that there were at least 11 cases of violence by police against people who are transgender were reported from the province.
Activist Tamur Kamal told The Express Tribune that since 2015, around 54 people who are transgender have been killed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). In that regard, the five murders in 2017 meant that it was a comparatively less bloody year.
But incidents of violence including rape, kidnapping, torture and extortion continued unabated.
Qamar Naseem, who is an activist for rights of people who are transgender, told The Express Tribune that they had recorded around 208 cases of violence against transgender. Most of these cases, he said, were from just five districts of the province including Peshawar, Bannu, Swat, Mardan and Nowshera.
“This is not the whole picture by any means,” said Naseem as he started off with a disclaimer about his data.
“As in other districts, violence is taking place against the transgender community but it is neither reported to police nor to anyone else,” he lamented, adding that amongst the worst crimes after murders – people who are transgender are kidnapped and then raped the transgender persons.
However, torture and threats were far more common against members of the transgender community.
“Five transgenders were killed this year in Peshawar, Nowshera and other districts while two were killed by their families in the name of honour since they were against the dancing and singing by their children. But these were never ever reported so there was at least seven transgender killed this year,” Naseem argued.
Out of the 208 violence cases, around 46 cases of rape and gang rape were recorded. Similarly, there were also reports where families of such people tortured them.
Peshawar was the most violent towards people who are transgender, followed by Mardan, Nowshera and Swabi.
Apart from violence perpetrated by other people, Naseem said that that the transgender community faced another challenge — HIV/AIDS.
“As per the official record, the transgender community is the largest single segment of Pakistan in which aids is spreading at an alarming pace,” he said, adding that around 39,000 people who are transgender were suffering from AIDS across the country, accounting 7.9 per cent of all infected people.
“Recently we conducted a survey and found that in 38 transgenders whose blood samples were collected, 21 were found positive from Malik Plaza on Dalazak Road,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2018.