As was highlighted by the case of Alisha, a leader of the transgender community in Peshawar, injured by an assailant and then denied treatment at a leading hospital in the city, the situation of transgender people in the country is grim. It is particularly grim in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where at least 15 transgender persons have been murdered since January 2015. Others face acute violence in different forms. In July this year, the home of a transgender person employed by the KP government was set alight in an incident that could so easily have caused death. That it did not do so was simply a merciful accident. A few weeks later, three transgender persons complained of being brutally tortured and humiliated by police after they refused to pay extortion money. There have been other cases in which transgender people have been beaten and in some cases brought close to death. It is believed not all the incidents are reported. Most come to light because of protests made by the Trans Action Alliance, which has taken on an active role in Peshawar and some other areas of KP.
The historical Supreme Court ruling of 2009 which gave transgenders the right to vote, recognised them as equal citizens of the country and ordered the government to give them rights highlighted the plight this community faces. In real terms, however, it has done little to make their lives safer. In Peshawar, according to the limited reports that exist, there are gangs which specifically target transgender people. We need a far more thorough and serious investigation to truly understand the motives behind such attacks and find ways to stop the violence. It is known that in some cases the police have been involved as well. The same problem exists in other parts of the country where the transgender community has complained that they have in actual fact been given very little access to work or an escape from the isolated lives they live. The SC ruling of 2009 then needs to be brought forward once again and the terms laid down by it put into practice. A start in this can be made by ensuring the police take the murder of a transgender person just as seriously as any other heinous crime.