Disclaimer: The video contains violence, nudity, and foul language.
In Pakistan, the rights of minorities – be it religious communities or gender groups – seem to be in a perpetual state of suspension.
Judging by incidents that we, unfortunately, encounter all too regularly in our country, it would not be a case of overshooting the mark if one assumes that people from majority groups have been allowed to think they can do as they please with members of the under-represented segments of our society.
Only a few dare to question the offenders, and even fewer take a stand against them.
However, the power of social media has its perks.
When it can make a Chai Wala famous just for his looks, it can even ensure that the law actually gets to such people. The same happened this morning.
On Sunday night, the video of a man beating a trans individual went viral on social media spaces. He was abusing her, beating her with a belt and kept threatening her to do worse if she didn’t stop protesting. Here is the video:
This video shows that the offender, identified as Jajja Butt, kept hitting the individual with a belt and hurling a barrage of abuses, even when people around him tried to intervene. Eventually, he lowers her shalwaar and strikes her repeatedly across the rear.
By Monday morning, there were media reports that 5 out of the 12 individuals involved in the brutality had been arrested by the Sialkot police. Certain sections of the media quoted a higher figure, stating that 9 people had been apprehended for the crime. The reason for this absurd, inhumane act is still not clear.
Several news outlets reported that Butt’s harrowing actions were driven by a refusal to pay extortion money. On the other hand, the offender, Butt, who is now in police custody, had this to say, “She was my lover. I found out through people that she was physically involved with other men. That enraged me to no end.”
However, Julie, one of the transgenders present during the entire episode came out with a powerful video message in which she laid bare the extent to which the community has been oppressed.
“They (Jajja Gang) first went to her (the victim’s) house and beat her up there. Then, they dragged her and several other of our community members to another transgender’s house where they did things that would drive a person to suicide. They made us drink urine, spat in our faces, raped us, and beat us with shoes,” Julie narrates.
Imploring the government and other authorities concerned for protection, she says, “It seems we are children of a lesser God. We are worse off than dogs in this country. People don’t consider us humans; they forget that we were born to humans and that anyone could face this situation.”
She urged the government to take actions against such people who are taking benefits of the fact that there is no protection given to transgender community in Pakistan.
Violence against the transgender community in Pakistan has been reported all through 2016. Just a few months ago, a transgender activist named Didar was shot and injured in Peshawar. Prior to that, in July, a 42-year-old transgender person named Shehla was killed.
The most high-profile case of the year was in June when a transgender rights activist, Alisha, was murdered in a targeted gun attack. The case shot to prominence when it was revealed that hospitals in Peshawar had refused to administer first aid to Alisha as they weren’t sure “which gender ward should she be put in.”
The stories do not end here. There remains a plethora of such harrowing incidents of violence against minorities that have fallen prey to our skewed news cycle priorities. You might not be able to feel their pain, but as a human, stand up and speak for this community and all other minority groups. They all deserve a life where respect, not fear, abounds.