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Transsexuals protest after attack

Gunmen's assault prompts outcry

Transsexuals protest after attack
Tarqi (bottom center) shows her cut hair during a protest in Lahore. reporter, Lahore

November 30, 2012

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Dozens of hijra (transsexuals) blocked roads for an hour yesterday after armed men in the southern suburbs of Lahore attacked a community on Wednesday, forcibly cutting the hair of two transsexuals.

“We were cooking dinner when two local thugs entered our compound and dragged us outside. The crowd watched silently on both sides of the road while they took us into a barber shop and started snipping," said Jamil, 20, who works in an office.

Frequently abandoned by their families, the hijras  of Pakistan usually live in communities where they typically survive by dancing, as sex workers or though panhandling.

During the protest, organized by the Khwaja Sira Society (KSS), Jamil and Tarqi sat down on the road as their teacher took out a handful of hair from a plastic bag and showed it to photographers.

“They were armed and drunk," Jamil said. Other community members fled during the sometimes violent attack, she said. "What’s worse is police refused to register a first information report and asked us to leave the village”.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan recently issued a decision that transgendered people should be given equal basic rights as all citizens, including equal inheritance and job opportunity rights. Last year, the apex court directed the National Database and Registration Authority to issue computerized national identity cards to eunuchs (many hijra undergo voluntary castration). 

Blocking the traffic in front of the Lahore Press Club, the hijra beat their chests, chanted slogans against the police and demanded security from officials.

“We are humans and citizens of this country. They cannot ban us," said Neeli Rana, a KSS field supervisor. The community has received threats since the incident she said.

“There is still no place for them in our Islamic society,” said Saeeda Deep, founder of the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies. “It will be a long time before they are taken seriously. Media and NGOs needs to continuously highlight their plight," she said.

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