Julie's shameful torture shows that, in Pakistan, criminals have rights but transgenders don't

“Transgenders were beaten up all night. We were forced to drink their urine, we were raped, spat on our faces and when we protested we were beaten up with shoes," said Julie.

Days after a disturbing video of a transgender being brutally flogged and violated came to the surface, the police on Sunday arrested Jajja Butt and eight other members of his criminal gang from Sialkot who were responsible for the horryfying act.

Another video appeared on social media showing Julie, a transgender from Faisalabad who earlier faced brutal violence and gang rape at the hands of another gang in her previous city only to escape and witness similar brutality and rape in Sialkot.

She appeared on the video weeping about the brutality that she had witnessed and how no one from the government is taking violence against the transgender community seriously. In her words, “Transgenders were beaten up all night. We were forced to drink their urine, we were raped, spat on our faces and when we protested we were beaten up with shoes. Three months ago I was gang raped in Faisalabad by another gang, I was brutally raped there and after much protest in front of the media the police decided to take action but still some of the criminals are at large.”

She further adds, sobbing, “I came to Sialkot to find refuge but now even that isn’t safe, the police aren't taking much action to protect us. We have no rights here, we are not criminals or dacoits, we are even worse than dogs. I request the Punjab government especially Shahbaz and Nawaz Sharif to protect us, our community supports you but despite that, why are we facing this brutal assault?”

Meanwhile, after being arrested, Jajja was asked why he committed this heinous act, to which he responded: “She (transwoman) was my friend, she was meeting many men that’s why I had to punish her”. In an attempt to cover up his insanity Jajja, used the same old patriarchal honor card which has been previously been used to commit violence and even murder women in Pakistan like Qandeel Baloch and others who have fallen victim to the same cycle of violence. Jajja went on to defend his violent actions and trans-misogyny. This incident, among others, amounts to a gruesome increase in attacks and murders of transgenders in Pakistan, including the much publicized murder of transgender activist Alesha this year in Peshawar, KPK.

Inaya Zarakhel, a trans activist from Islamabad, who has been protesting against this violence in front of the National Press Club said, “Jajja and his gang had brutally beaten up as many as five transgenders, who were locked up and tortured for hours. Transgenders are facing brutal attacks daily but very few incidents are being reported because of the incompetence of the law and a lack of seriousness by the police department in apprehending the criminals.”

Inaya and other civil rights activists have been staging a protest in Islamabad since Sunday organized by the civil society, through which members of the transgender community are appealing to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo moto action against the culprits and put an end to the violence against the transgender community. 

Kami Choudhry, another trans actress and activist from Karachi, who is featured in many award-winning documentaries and short films on transgender rights went on to add, “I am shocked to see such gruesome attacks being carried on at a time when we are observing Trans Remembrance Week (a two-week event which memorializes victims of transphobic violence). There is an urgent need to implement laws and policies to help protect transgenders in Pakistan, I fear more transgenders will face such attacks like women face in this country. If there is no change in laws and policies at the provincial and national level which guarantees the protection of transgenders, I only fear the worst”.

Muhammad Salman Khan is a Karachi-based environmental blogger and social activist. He is a lover of nature, defender of human rights and environment. Follow him on Twitter

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