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Rights groups demand end to 'genocide' of trans women

17 Dec, 2021
Demonstrators demanded transgender people be given their due rights. Reuters
Demonstrators demanded transgender people be given their due rights. Reuters

The Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) and Aurat March officials on Thursday demanded an end to “genocide of our khwaja sira sisters,” reported The Express Tribune.

In a press release jointly issued by the two non-governmental organizations they claimed that four transgender women died due to apathy of society.

“Two of them were murdered, while two died of being denied healthcare services,” read the press release. Talking about one of the victims, Bijli, a speaker said the transgender woman whose primary source of income was begging was known to be on good terms with her neighbours.

Bijli was strangled to death in her own house earlier this week they said.

Toffe, a 19-year old transgender woman, was refused treatment at the Dr Ruth KM Pfau Civil Hospital because she was HIV-positive. She subsequently died because of denial of her basic right to health, they said.

According to the press release, another victim Sherly was “agressively discriminated” in healthcare spaces that she was terrified to seek treatment when she needed it. She passed away because of the healthcare system's transphobia, it added.

“The family of another victim, whose family doesn’t wish to disclose her name due to threats, was violently murdered in Lyari,” read the press release.

In their press conference, the speakers regretted the women's stories did not appear in the media.

They condemned the increase in violence and discrimination against the khwaja sira community, saying the process to deprive them of their place in society began with the colonisation of South Asia.

“Prior to the arrival of British colonists and their social order, the kwaja siras enjoyed social recognition and employment in many dignified professions,” the press release read.

They noted khawaja siras were shut out of public spaces, healthcare, and educational institutions only because of their gender.

Stating their demands, GIA and Aurat March said: “We demand a full and thorough investigation into the four murders, and demand that the state act against the perpetrators. We demand the state take notice of the un-Constitutional discrimination of khawaja sira community at public and private health care facilities.”

They also demanded the medical fraternity uphold its oath and provide healthcare to khwaja sira patients without discrimination. They urged the media to take notice of violence and discrimination against khwaja sira sisters.

“We demand that the federal and provincial authorities implement all obligations under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, including the establishment of protection centers and safe houses,” it read.