Gender violence, harassment, and domestic and child abuse cases have been the focus of a Gender Protection Unit, which has now been expanded to include help for the transgender population in Islamabad. What are the names of the people who are spearheading this enormous project? They too want to make a difference, but what type of difference?
Within Islamabad’s Police Facilitation Centre in sector F-6, a stunning transgender lady makes her way to the Gender Protection Unit (GPU), Islamabad. She’s here to fix a problem at the newly established Tahaffuz desk, which is dedicated to serving the transgender community’s unique requirements.
Gender protection unit Islamabad, since it’s now beyond 8 p.m., the desk’s’skeleton staff’ consists of two female police officers, a few other employees, and Nayyab Ali, a transgender woman who serves as the desk’s victim support officer (VSO).
COVER: Islamabad Police has launched a ‘Tahaffuz’ desk to provide support to the transgender community. Who are the individuals behind the ambitious initiative? And what kind of a difference do they hope to make? @madeehasyed finds out for @eosmagazine https://t.co/CDhsSdZNnv
— Hasan Zaidi (@hyzaidi) April 17, 2022
Police officers are called to a residence where a transgender woman claims that she has been threatened and harassed by another transgender individual.
Zara tells Bano*, a transgender woman, that Bano accuses her of spreading rumours about her. Her clothing are inexpensive because she doesn’t have the money to buy them.” I’m not even sure why I’d do it. Ugly as sin! Clearly, she’s resentful of my success and intends to hurt me.”
Questions from the young cop let him learn more about Zara, according to Gender protection unit Islamabad.
Bano allegedly stormed into Zara’s house and threatened to murder her following a violent argument with Zara. Zara claims to have witnesses and intends to submit a formal complaint.
Zara is instructed by the police officer to jot down whatever he says. Zara sighs and admits, “I have no idea how to write.” The officer then asks her to retell her statement, which she does, and takes notes.
At this time, a gang of three transsexual ladies bursts in behind them, causing some confusion. Bano is surprised to find Zara at the police station, and asks, “What are you doing here?” Bano’s pal inquires, “Did you steal my name?”
That’s what Zara tells the buddy she’s referring to. While threatening me with death, they attempted to smash my door down!
People’s voices are growing more louder as the situation worsens.
He tells the officer, “I merely demanded that she cease spreading rumours about me or I will murder her,” Bano tells him. As the policewoman asks, “Are you threatening someone inside a police station?” she harshly replies.
In Bano’s words: “No ma’am, you don’t get it.” “It’s simply the way we do things.”
There is a great deal of emotion in the air right now. Nayyab appears behind the group at this moment. Everyone relaxes in the presence of her. When the trans ladies enter her office next door, she takes them inside, sits at her desk, and turns her computer on.
According to Gender protection unit Islamabad, in order to establish whether the threats are credible enough to warrant a FIR or if this is just a disagreement that can be settled peacefully, she is now questioning both parties.
In the waiting room, there is still another group of trans women, whom Bano’s friends had referred to as “back-up.” But knowing that their pals are chatting to one of their own makes everyone feel more at ease. A person who knows what they are going through. A person who has been there.
This desk is clearly a force to be reckoned with. The GPU, an initiative that has already earned great recognition and been hailed as a success story, is another important addition to the Police Facilitation Centre.
UNCOMMON TYPE FOR A POLICE STATION
The GPU and the Tahaffuz desk are located at the Police Facilitation Centre in F-6, which has the appearance of a bank. Visitors are given a token number and wait in line to talk with police officers who are sitting at workstations with computers. It’s evident that this centre was built to make it easy for the cops to aid you.
For transgender people – the most vulnerable and neglected members of society — the Tahaffuz desk is a safe haven where they may seek assistance from the police without fear of discrimination or harassment, says ASP Beenish Fatima, who speaks with authority according to recent news update.
People around Beenish are respectfully bowing their heads to her as she shows me around the facility.
She quips that as one of the few female officers of the younger generation who joined the force’shauq se’ (on her own free choice) rather than as part of a family tradition, Beenish, who graduated from the top of the exclusive police training school, is an outlier. Additionally, she is a top police officer in Pakistan, where women make up fewer than 2% of the force.
Tahaffuz desk Purpose
ASP Beenish Fatima, speaking authoritatively, explains that the Tahaffuz desk was created to ensure that transgender persons, who are among society’s most vulnerable and neglected groups, may seek police assistance without fear of discrimination or harassment according to recent news update.
A few weeks ago, she was sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Kohsar (she is now SDPO Sihala). Until then, the Parliament and the Prime Minister House were just a few kilometres away from her jurisdiction.
As a result, even after a full day at work, she is frequently only able to make a brief journey home before returning to work for her shift on night shift. The transgender facilitation desk, or Tahaffuz, is her favourite project, and on some days, she barely gets a few hours of sleep before heading to the GPU, which is a stone’s throw from her thana, to check in on it.
Beenish’s Tahaffuz desk in Islamabad isn’t his first. In Rawalpindi, she launched a similar desk a few years ago. Those who live in the area were quite pleased with the results.
PROTECTION of TRANS SISTERS
Beenish became aware of something not long after she arrived at Civil Lines, Rawalpindi, some time in 2018. “We would receive a 15 [the official police hotline] call almost every night with varied difficulties particular to transsexual folks,” she recalls. Transgender people were beggars who were sexually grabbed or groped, and there were incidences of violence, such being beaten up or stabbed.” For us, receiving calls of this kind has become the norm.
Police Station Civil Lines had authority over Jhanda Chichi, which also happens to be home to a sizable transsexual population. Almas Bobby, a well-known transgender activist, resides there, according to Beenish. “She’s provided safe haven for several transsexual ladies,” says one source.
As a transgender person, Almas Bobby is a household name in Pakistan. At the Pakistan Shemale Foundation, she is also a former television personality and the foundation’s executive director according to recent news update.
As a reaction to all the complaints they were receiving through their helpline, Muhammad Ahsan Younas, Beenish’s then-boss (and now-current Inspector General of the Islamabad Police) asked to know the status of the registration of FIRs.
It’s not going to happen, I told him,” Beenish says. Because they never show up at the station, ” In addition, they claim that their assailant will retain a grudge against them if they do so. Because of this, they do not file a criminal complaint.”
The Tahaffuz desks were the result of these discussions. According to Beenish, Younas is responsible for both Tahaffuz desks in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
For individuals who live on the margins of society, police stations aren’t often the most friendly of locations. This is reaffirmed by Beenish. The cops will make fun of them when they arrive, she predicts. Because of this, “they’ll condemn them for [performing] music or dancing at such an ungodly hour.”
Beenish sighs and stops for a moment. They did go out to a club for a night out, but not for a night of stabbing.
No one went there to be stabbed and then sent home. There is no way to justify violence. She insists: “On anybody,” she says.
IMPLEMENTING COMMUNITY RESPONSIBLES
This effort for transgender people is spearheaded by Nayyab Ali; he serves as the face of it for the Pakistani police. Transgender community leaders look up to the desk victim support officer (VSO). She’s definitely a somebody who isn’t afraid to try new things.
Nayyab’s calm demeanour is evident as she chats to me while wearing a dupatta and a mask over her face. She doesn’t hold back when it comes to her opinions, even though she talks quietly and nicely.
There was a major problem with the cops in the neighbourhood, she explains, firmly. According to Beenish, the thieves took money from transgenders by using their gender identity to pass as a kind of identification. But who was it that was stealing the cash? There would be nighttime police patrols by officers of the law. Transgender people going home after weddings would be stopped and bullied by them. They thought they could pull it off. As a result, the police have been portrayed in a negative light.”
Recent news reported that this effort for transgender people is spearheaded by Nayyab Ali; he serves as the face of it for the Pakistani police. Transgender community leaders look up to the desk victim support officer (VSO). She’s definitely a somebody who isn’t afraid to try new things.
On her desk, she points out the bouquets of flowers. Transgender people have sent me flowers because they are relieved that they no longer have to visit a conventional thana. A member from their own community will be able to welcome them immediately.”
Nayyab has a long history of working with the police to help her neighbourhood. Since then, she has worked with a variety of local and international organisations on issues related to gender-based violence, including the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights.
As a member of the panel that helped write the groundbreaking Transgender Protection Act (2018), Nayyab is especially pleased of her role in this historic legislation.
According to recent news update, the path Nayyab has chosen has not been an easy one. Even though the odds have always been stacked against her, she has persevered in her efforts to better herself and her community. All of this has brought her to this point, where she can make a real difference in the lives of her neighbours.
In the transgender community, a lot of terrible things happen. It’s happened to me as well, unfortunately. She informs me that she was abandoned and disowned by her family. She claims, however, that her mother’s words, “after you are educated, you will be strong,” stayed near to her heart. While growing up, Nayyab was subjected to a lot of bullying and prejudice, but she persevered, earning her BA in International Relations and an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies.
Nevertheless, she continues, “I had such harrowing experiences that I decided not to join mainstream society.” She decided to leave and join the home of a transgender guru, so she went. There was an occurrence that profoundly altered her life.
According to Nayyab, she was living with a guru, the house’s senior, in 2016 when a transgender person came to her. “She was raped by a team of vicious rapists.” She was inconsolable, sobbing and pleading with the police to file a complaint. This is a part of our lives.’ These were the exact words of my teacher. We can’t report it because we’re stuck with individuals like them for the rest of our lives.’
Murder of Transgenders in Pakistan
Transgender people have been murdered in Pakistan over the last three years, but no one has been held responsible for any of them, she says, placing a palm on her chest and taking a few long breaths. This comment has a lot of weight, and it’s all on her.
Nayyab had no intention of letting the rapists get away with their crimes. As the only educated member of her town, the victim believed Nayyab was the only one who could assist her. When she says, “I went and registered the FIR,” she means that. “We had a solid argument. ” There was DNA evidence to back up the claims of guilt. It was easy to identify the perpetrators of the crime. ‘Twas established.’
according to recent news update, Nayyab started getting threats as expected. But it didn’t stop her. Singing and dancing were also her career at the time, so she had received threats before.
Although there was a lot of evidence, the case was never brought to trial. As a result of her guru’s insistence on a settlement out of court, she began to get “severe threats.”
In the end, they weren’t simply hollow threats. She tells me she was attacked with acid as a consequence of the threats she received.
As a trans person, Nayyab is well aware of the challenges of transition. When she campaigned for office from her hometown of Okara in 2018, she was able to see this herself. Those who opposed her were taken aback by the fact that they were facing up against a “khusra” (a pejorative name for a transgender person). “Oh now we have to vote for khwajas as our leaders?” would be the first question asked by the public.
I’m taken aback by the comment. Nayyab and I have been communicating for a few days now and nothing has come to my attention. Heavily scarred scarring covers the bottom part of her face, chin, and neck as she removes her face mask.
according to recent news update, the “huge tragedy” she refers to is that of her family. “There is a lot of incorrect investigation in many situations.” In many situations, biological family who previously rejected their kid accept money from the killer in order to “forgive” them for the crime. “Justice for transgender people is very uncommon.”
After years of mental healing, Nayyab’s physical recovery might take as little as three months. I kept wondering, ‘Am I still here?'” she recalls. In the midst of everything that had just occurred. My parents kicked me out of the family, I was mistreated by society, I was discriminated against, I was threatened, and now this assault. In spite of everything, I’m still alive.”
Nayyab began to believe that there must be a greater purpose to her existence after all of this. When she was younger, she made a pact with herself that she would do something to help the people in her neighbourhood.
She chuckles as she recalls the accomplishments she has made since then according to recent news update.
GETTING OUT FROM UNDER A GROUP TRAUMA
Transgender people, even those who seem to be educated and competent, are frequently forced to act at weddings and the births of children because of a lack of knowledge and acceptance in their families, schools, and jobs. Many are also forced to engage in sex labour.
In Lahore’s Shahi Mohalla, I’ve encountered transgender people who have shown their abilities while also telling me that no one would employ them just because of their looks. Then there’s the fact that they’re compelled to engage in sex labour, which puts their lives and bodies at danger.
According to Nayyab, the community has “adjusted” and learnt to live with violence.
According to Nayyab, “the ordinary man has acquired a reputation that most transsexual people are ‘habitual’ sex workers according to recent news update.
Nayyab poses the hypothetical question: What would a guru who knows nothing except begging, prostitution, and dancing teach a transgender girl who has been abandoned by her family?
That youngster has been sexually assaulted at least five times, according to her estimation. How many times has this youngster been involved in a sexual offence and nothing has been done about it?
He claims that as transgender youngsters mature, they come to accept these horrible behaviours as normal. She asks, “Do they even grasp what violence is?” and adds that acceptance of violence applies to cis women as well.. As a result of such atrocities, programmes like GPU and the Tahaffuz desk are critical according to recent news update.
As he was doing research in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Nayyab questioned a lady whether her husband had ever struck her. That’s true, but it’s also how males demonstrate their affection. “They strike you because they care about you,” they said.
One persecuted group’s acceptance of violence spreads down to the transgender community. In Punjabi, the phrase’mashookaan pichhay kukkaan’ [Lovers always catcall] is widely used in our culture.” There are people out there who think it’s a badge of honour to be pursued by someone who threatens to chop your hair or rape you if you enter their territory. As a result of your status, people are threatening you.”
The community’s collective trauma, which it has endured and tolerated for generations, would likely take some time to work through and overcome, even if everything suddenly became perfect.
WORKING FOR A CHANGE
Nayyab, on the other hand, feels that things are gradually improving.
In conjunction with the transgender community, Nayyab states, “the bill of rights for the transgender community was produced.” As soon as it was finished, we’d inform the community that a bill of rights was on the way.” A community leader once mentioned something to me that I’ll never forget. “Achha?” she exclaimed. [Really?] I’m not familiar with the legislation you’re referring to. We have to pay our power and gas bills every month, after all!
Nayyab laughs at Nayyab’s “innocent” reaction. “It’s also a reflection of how impoverished and isolated they are from all of these things. They were unaware of their rights.”
But now they do.
As a trans person, Nayyab is well aware of the challenges of transition. When she campaigned for office from her hometown of Okara in 2018, she saw this personally. Those who opposed her were taken aback by the fact that they were facing up against a “khusra” (a pejorative name for a transgender person). “Oh now we have to vote for khwajas as our leaders?” would be the first question asked by the public.
Nevertheless, she prevailed, garnering 1,200 votes. In Okara, “it was all very fresh,” she says, and she feels that this opened their minds a little bit. “It was all very new for them,” she adds.
Nayyab’s new job puts her on the front lines of the effort to end the violence in her neighbourhood. There’s a sense of optimism after seeing the young 30-year-old VSO reassure anxious individuals of her community and assist them in finding answers.
It is better to prevent than to treat.
It is Beenish’s job as a law enforcement officer to prevent crimes from occurring. When asked what is most essential about this desk, Beenish responds, “It provides a feeling of security.” This instils dread in the aggressors, who now realise that they may be reported on. This apprehension is critical.
“Your primary loss is done when a crime has already been committed,” she explains. Although we have discovered the criminal and convicted him or her, all of that does not repair the harm that has already been inflicted on a kid who was raped, for example.”
It’s all about prevention, she continues. “People aren’t paying attention to it enough. To protect a transgender individual, you must intervene. Preventing a youngster from being sodomised is an absolute must. You must prevent all forms of violence against women.
Deterrents, according to Beenish, will come from efforts like those of the Tahaffuz desk and the GPU.
After a crime against a transgender person was reported, authorities conducted an investigation even though the victim refused to press charges. This case relied heavily on the Rawalpindi Tahaffuz desk, she says.
During a wedding in 2020, a handful of transgender individuals were performing. They were then stripped in front of them with a rifle. According to Beenish, the event “wasn’t reported, but a mobile phone video clip of the incident became viral.”
They didn’t want to talk about it, therefore no one bothered to talk to them about it. If the perpetrator saw them as ‘trouble’, they dreaded losing their sole source of money and the penalties that might ensue. All of these are legitimate concerns.
In other words, Beenish maintains, the police became a complainant in the case and filed a FIR on its own initiative. “The victim was not a participant in the litigation.”
The culprits were apprehended when the authorities tracked down the video’s origin to Rawalpindi’s Kala Saeeda neighbourhood.
Nayyab, too, sees the Tahaffuz desk as a big step forward in delivering justice to the transgender community and ensuring that their opinions are heard. Nevertheless, there is still a great deal of work to be done, she explains.
“The Transgender Act…… Pakistani citizens have a right to basic freedoms, and “I keep thinking about it,” she adds. “As transgender people, however, we’re still fighting for basic rights today.”
‘We need non-refusal of services, non-inclusion, space, mainstreaming, fundamental rights and services, and equality.’
Sarah Gill [the first transgender doctor in Pakistan
“[The inclusion of] Sarah Gill [the first transgender doctor in Pakistan] is a really wonderful thing that occurred in hospitals. Nayyab cites this as an excellent example of inclusivity. Inclusion is required now that acceptance has arrived. “Dignity and respect for others.”
She argues that to her, acceptance means that people are saying, “Okay, so these people are living here in our mohallas, colonies, and workplaces,” and that this is a sign of acceptance. Nayyab adds, “Inclusion for me means simply having a cup of tea together.”