The last week has seen several horrific incidents of attacks against the transgender community. Five transgender persons were injured as a man fired at them in Upper Channia area in Mansera on Sunday night. A few days after this attack, Chaanda, a well-known figure in the transgender community, was shot dead in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday.

Despite the passing of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, acts of violence against the transgender community have not abated. These tragic attacks are a testament to this unfortunate reality. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, (KP) has in the past and now always had a much higher risk of violence against the transgender community—Mansehra, where five women were shot at, was traditionally considered one of the more safe areas in KPK for transwomen—these recent incidents show that no place is safe.

Why have incidents of violence continued despite the immensely progressive new law? There is of course the general deep-seated problem of transphobia in society, which will not be eliminated just through the law. There is also a need to identify the link between patriarchal customs and violence against the transgender community—international research has shown the link between highly patriarchal societies and transphobic violence. Thus, unless there is an emphasis on societal change in the mindset against the transgender community, as well as an active effort to fight sexism, change will not occur.

However, apart from the societal change needed, there are still many flaws with the law enforcement and justice system. The Act recognises violence against the transgender community as a hate crime; however, the police are reluctant to recognise these attacks as such, labelling them as a personal matter. These matters require a deeper understanding of the nature of violence against the trans community; it is important to recognise that transphobic attacks are often perpetrated by men known to the victims and are motivated by transphobia.