On October 13, 2017 in Islamabad, as described in a recent article by Uzma Yaqoob from Forum for Dignity Initiative (FDI), Julie was traveling to attend a work meeting in Islamabad where she was denied entry to a public space and harassed by police officers due to her gender identity as a trans woman. The verbal harassment by the police included misgendering, threatening to fine, and verbally assaulting with derogatory comments and insinuations. Once at the meeting venue, the Serena Hotel, Julie was again humiliated by the hotel security staff. This indicates an immediate need not only for government-based training but also private sector investment in the sensitivity and accountability of their staff to their corporate commitments to equality and diversity. In this piece, Yaqoob exposes the extreme stigmatisation and harassment that trans people face in Pakistan. The Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN) and FDI condemn these actions. We demand the full recognition and protection of trans people in Pakistan.
This situation highlights the discriminatory and abusive behaviour that many trans people endure at the hands of law enforcement and greater society. The conduct of the police to prohibit Julie’s entrance into the venue and the derogatory comments made because of her gender identity violate her human rights to life, liberty and security of the person and to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment. This incident, while deeply concerning, is not isolated - trans people in Pakistan are regularly subjected to discrimination, harassment, and other abusive behavior.
As Yaqoob notes, Pakistan has legislatively taken many actions to contribute to the rights of the trans population. However, the lack of clear policies, enforcement, and training to effectively carry out the updated legislation has resulted in limited change for the improvement of treatment of trans people. Joe Wong of APTN responded to Julie’s treatment saying, “No person deserves to be mistreated by government officials and law enforcers; it is the role of the state to actively protect the rights of their citizens.”
APTN stands with FDI to call for specific action from the Pakistani government to improve the treatment of trans people and ensure that occurrences such as the one above do not continue. We call for trans competency training for all government and public officials, including law enforcement officers, across Pakistan.
Asia Pacific Transgender Network and Forum for Dignity Initiative are committed to protecting and serving trans communities in Pakistan. The organisations actively address the incidents of intolerance and discrimination experienced by trans communities and work to establish systems in which trans people have full human rights and dignity.
Find out more information about the work done by FDI at www.fdipakistan.org or on their facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ForumForDignityInitiativesFdi/messages/?threadid=100022653502763×tamp=1509458593903 Follow Uzma Yaqoob on Twitter @uzmafdi for updates.
Asia Pacific Transgender Network