A recent incident of violence against Khawaja Sira (Transgenders) in Karachi has shown that the community can’t even celebrate birthday parties in peace. On the night of September 19, Pakistani Khawaja Sira community members in the Gadap area of Karachi faced an attack from gangsters, which are commonly referred to as Beelas. It was a rare incident of such nature that came into the limelight because one of the victims was a famous YouTuber, drag comedian, public health practitioner, and Trans Rights activist, Dr. Muhammad Moiz.
Shehzadi Rai, who is working with Gender Interactive Alliance as a violence peace manager and field supervisor, told HoursTV that they were in the party when Beelas attacked. They hid behind the closed doors because mobsters were firing straight. Dr. Moiz came late to the party so Beelas attacked him and tried to gang-rape him.
As per initial reports and statements, given by Muhammad Moiz in a YouTube video, his car was attacked by the mob of Beelas when he reached near the gate of the farmhouse, where the party was going on. Instead of giving up to the whims of attackers who intended to rape him, he fought back and later called a childhood friend for help, before the gangsters snatched his phone. Soon after the Police arrived and rescued Moiz and the rest of his friends, who were hidden inside the farmhouse after the aerial firing had started.
More than 300 to 400 people might have attacked the party; the police found this after seeing the WhatsApp group conversations from the smartphone of a person present at the scene of the attack.
Almost one week later, on September 24, the community organized a protest outside Karachi Press Club; they demanded the arrest of perpetrators, chanted slogans against the gangsters, and raised their voice to awaken the citizens against the organized Beela violence.
Beela Attacks on Pakistani Khawaja Sira Community
The Karachi incident has revealed some horrific details about the ordeal the Pakistani Khwaja Sira community has to go through, which were otherwise not known to common citizens. The gruesome targeting of a particular gender shows that general laws are not enough to guarantee the safety of minorities who are pushed to the peripheries for the lack of acceptance in mainstream society.
Trans activist Shehzadi Rai further informed HoursTV that Beelas is an organized group of people who attack trans genders and do crimes against them.
They often become boyfriends or organize functions for them. The Trans community doesn’t dare to say anything to them or forbid them, as they are otherwise punished for this. If anyone goes against them they threaten to end their source of earning a livelihood and tease them for doing sex work.
Even if the victim ever lodges an FIR then it is of no use as well because both parties end up reconciling.
Muhammad Moiz in his statement also educated the people by saying, “Beela is an organized syndicate of criminals spread in the multiple cities of Pakistan; they have three interests (Londay Bazi) to rape the boys, (Moorat Bazi) to rape Khawaja Sira and gang rape. These are their play-things and they are proud of them. They openly state it and every Moorat and Khawaja Sira in Pakistan knows it.”
Need for Better Laws and Making Police Aware about Community Specific Problems
Pakistani Khawaja Sira community has come a long way to get its voices heard. In 2018, the government passed the Transgender Protection Act which was the first of its kind. However, it has not been able to make much of an impact on the lives of this minority gender which is vulnerable to Beela groups.
While talking about the need for specific laws Rai Shehzadi told, “ We don’t have laws. Since we are a minority and we are more being at risk. So, there should be a separate law”.
“Government should first work on FIR system and Police Station system.”
“Our bill has not been presented in Sindh Assembly from the last six-year, I met, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Shehla Raza, Nisar Khuhro, politicians from MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), JI (Jamat-e-Islami), attended the meeting of activists and helped draft bill, but it has not been presented. Federation has passed the bill, but provinces have not any, despite being autonomous.”
“Things have improved. Earlier we were not even allowed inside. Now things are better but we want to make them the best. 15 should be sensitized to go to the location.”
Society Can Decrease Violence Against Transgender By accepting Them
Ms. Shehzadi further told how the Pakistani Khawaja Sira community faced problems on weekly basis; this explains how not being part of the mainstream society makes the minority gender more vulnerable to gangs who exploit their weaknesses. However, it seems that the affected community, this time will not reconcile but it will fight this case to end. The resistance and taking up the matter with authorities will indeed offer a sign of hope for Khawaja Sira people who want to be free from the violence at the hands of gangsters due to their marginalized status.
The systematic discrimination of Pakistani transgender was also evident last year when the police arrested trans activist Julie based on a fabricated FIR.