in

Pakistani trans activists under attack: kidnapped, raped, shot

Location of Peshawar in Pakistan.
Location of Peshawar in Pakistan.

Two Pakistani trans rights activists were attacked Jan. 17 and Jan. 22 in Peshawar, an area where anti-trans violence has been on the increase.

Front Line Defenders reports:

Pakistan: Violent attacks on transgender members of trans rights organisation TransAction

Sonia, a trans rights activist, was shot on Jan. 17 in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy of Front Line Defenders)
Sonia, a trans rights activist, was shot on Jan. 17 in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy of Front Line Defenders)

Two members of Pakistani human rights organisation TransAction were brutally attacked in Peshawar. On 22 January 2018, trans rights activist Shama was gang raped by nine men and on 17 January 2018, trans rights activist Sonia was shot and injured in Peshawar. They were both brutally attacked for their human rights work.

Sonia and Shama are members of TransAction Pakistan, an organisation that represents thousands of transgender and intersex community members from twenty-five districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). The organisation strives to support transgender and intersex individuals through providing safe spaces for them. Sonia is an active transgender rights activist who regularly participates in seminars, demonstrations and walks for the rights of transgender persons. Shama is also involved in advocacy for transgender rights.

On 22 January 2018, Shama, 18, was kidnapped then gang raped in the Gulbahar neighborhood of Peshawar by nine men in retaliation against her advocacy for the human rights of the transgender community. The assailants threatened to shoot her if she disclosed the incident to anyone or if she participated in any more demonstrations. Shama filed a complaint with the police but so far a First Incident Report (FIR) has not been lodged, no arrests have been made and no medical examination has been conducted for Shama.

On 17 January 2018, Sonia was shot in the Pahandu area of Peshawar by her partner, who is also a member of the gang that attacked Arzu Khan and Taimur Kamal, and kidnapped Sunny. She was under pressure from her partner to stop her transgender rights activism but she refused. Her partner strongly disapproved of her activities and on the day of the incident they had an argument over her human rights work. Having failed to convince Sonia to cease her activities, the defender’s partner shot her in anger. Sonia was taken to Khyber Teaching Hospital with gunshot wounds to the face and a bullet lodged in her throat. Sonia is still in hospital. A First Instance Report (FIR) has been registered against the man who shot Sonia.

Taimur Kamal, coordinator of the Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (Photo courtesy of Front Line Defenders)
Taimur Kamal, coordinator of the Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (Photo courtesy of Front Line Defenders)

Cases of violent crimes against transgender people have been on the rise in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. On 26 November 2017, a transgender person was shot dead in the city of Peshawar, the fifty-fourth transgender person killed since 2015, according to human rights defender Taimur Kamal. Previously, on 25 May 2016, transgender human rights defender Alesha died from six gunshot wounds received three days earlier in front of Asia Plaza in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The police is usually reluctant to take threats seriously and it is very difficult to get cases registered with the police. Moreover, members of the TransAction Alliance regularly face persecution and harassment in connection with their human rights work.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the brutal attacks on Sonia and Shama, which it believes were motivated by their legitimate and peaceful work for the promotion and protection of transgender rights in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Front Line Defenders further expresses serious concern for the physical and psychological integrity of members of the TransAction Alliance and all transgender human rights defenders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Pakistan to:

  1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the attacks on human rights defenders Shama and Sonia, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

  2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all members of the TransAction Alliance and other transgender human rights defenders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa;

  3. Ensure that police respond promptly and competently to complaints made by transgender human rights defenders, including formally registering cases as requested;

  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Pakistan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Related articles:

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

5 Comments

Leave a Reply

    Leave a Reply

    The display of a rainbow flag at a September concert in Cairo triggered a new round of anti-LGBT arrests in Egypt's ongoing crackdown on LGBT people and many others who are targets of the Abdel Fattah el-Sisi regime. (Photo courtesy of Rainbow Egypt via Facebook)

    As LGBTI arrests mount, Egypt’s allies remain mute

    Record numbers of hate-based LGBTI murders