June 26, 2022

Transgender climate activist raped

Representational picture. A protest was arranged by social activists of Lahore outside Press Club against violation of transgenders' rights in Pakistan. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The transgender community in our society has always been a victim of oppression and barbarism. Not only have they been sexually exploited but they have always feared the brutal murder, trafficking, forced prostitution, violence and so on.

Although many efforts are being made by the government to alleviate the plight of this oppressed class, the recent kidnapping, torture and rape of transgender who co-organised the Climate Change Awareness March has proved that perhaps we still have a long way to go in building an ideal society.

The organizer of the People’s Climate March under the auspices of Karachi Bachao Tehreek (KBT) who was a transgender woman, was allegedly tortured, abducted, and brutally abused by some unknown persons before the march.

According to the Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA), the Karachi Bachao Tehreek has confirmed that she was abducted by unknown individuals as she was walking home after a meeting regarding the march.

Karachi Bachao Tehreek said the victim “was tortured and raped for information regarding the march’s programme and its speeches”.

The march was organized for Karachi, in the Pakistani province of Sindh, to fight back against the demolition of settlements and markets in the area, displacing people and destroying the environment to make way for development.

The group continued: “Our march centered the demands of working class people in Karachi who have been impacted by eco-fascist and extractive ‘development’ projects.

“Participants at the march included many other groups, such as indigenous communities, people who have been dispossessed of their homes due to ‘green’ planning agendas, among many other victims of climate injustice in Karachi.

“It is worth noting that this police violence was disproportionately directed towards a trans woman – that sexual violence was weaponised against one of the most vulnerable members of the organising team, so that information about the march and its program could be extorted from her.”

Karachi Bachao Tehreek said the horrific incident demonstrated “the intersections between climate injustice, police brutality and gendered violence”.

Shehzadi Rai, the violence case manager for Gender Interactive Alliance Pakistan said that the trans woman’s attackers had also threatened violence against the wider trans community if she did not stop her political activism for trans rights.

Rai added that she was certain police were involved in the attack, because “who else can it be given the history of police involvement in violence against transgender people”.

Other members of the KBT also revealed that they were meeting with the Human Rights Commission set up by the Sindh government to discuss the issue. This is not the first time a trans woman has been subjected to such violence. Earlier this year, transgender Ramal Ali’s brother-in-law was shaved by the man who tortured him.

The Ministry of Human Rights also took note of the incident and said their transgender rights expert, Reem, is in touch with the concerned people including the guardian of the victim and our ministry will contact the Sindh government to ensure her protection.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah took action and ordered the Inspector General of Police to conduct an inquiry and submit a report.

The chief minister’s spokesperson Rashid Channa said that the victim has not formally contacted the police to lodge a case. “Police are in touch with representatives of the transgender community and others concerned to convince them to register an FIR in the case so that formal legal action can be initiated,” he added.

“The culprits involved in the incident will be arrested if transgender people come forward to lodge the case and cooperate with the police in the investigation.”

It is to be noted that a People’s Climate March was organized near the Boat Basin of Karachi in which dozens of people participated. The main agenda of the rally was to draw the attention of government authorities to the effects of climate change.

According to KBT, “the participants in the march included people from many other communities, such as the local communities, those who were evicted from their homes due to the” green “planning agendas, and many more, including others who have been ‘victims of climate injustice in Karachi’”

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