Posters calling for ‘beheading’ transwomen surface on Tariq Road
KARACHI: A number of hateful posters have surfaced at a mall on Tariq Road – one of the city’s most vibrant shopping centres – lending credence to the idea of ‘beheading’ transwomen.
‘Hijray mard hain [Transwomen are men]’ are the words inscribed in large, bold font on the posters. The words are given as a reference to some ‘Pakistan High Court’ while there is no such institution in the country.
The language of the text gets more disturbing as it goes on to say that ‘transgender persons are cursed by Allah’ but are safe in Pakistan because of its ‘weak and lethargic’ law. “If they had been in Saudi Arabia, their heads would have been cut off,” it added.
The mall, Rabi Centre, now wears a deserted look and has lost its colour. The transgender people – however mischief they seemed to emanate – tried to spread smiles on the faces of visitors. An air of fear has enveloped the area since the emergence of the ‘threatening posters’ against the transgender community that has mostly remained a ubiquitous part of the vibrant atmosphere of the city’s famous shopping centre.
Hatred not exclusive to posters
When asked who would paste these posters on the walls, a security guard of the mall, Rabi Centre, present on duty tells The Express Tribune that although he did not know who put them up but it was done during the night after the markets were closed. “I think some locals have put them and they are right in doing so because they [transwomen] are not khawaja sira in reality but men pretending to be women,” he says.
A shop owner joins the conversation. According to him, the message written on the posters is right and these ‘fake’ transgender persons should not be allowed to create nuisance in the malls.
“They touch women, hold their arms and beg for money, which should not be allowed at all,” he claims. “They are all actually men and, yes, if they had been in the holy land of Saudi Arabia, they would have been slaughtered as per the rule.” He refused to share his name.
‘Undress them in public’
“The police should undress them in public and check if they are the real ones,” suggests the security guard. “I am sure they are not. Their hands and feet do not seem very feminine, which proves they are not real transgender persons.”
The number of transgender persons who frequented the area for various reasons – asking for money being one of them – has significantly declined after the emergence of the posters, say people around the mall. Enraged by the message in the posters, transrights activist Kami Sid, who raised the issue on social media, says that law enforcers should immediately start investigating into the matter and act against the people behind it. “People who discriminate against the transgender community should step out of their cocoon and embrace humanity,” she says. “Do they even know the meaning of the word hijra as they are bandying about it?”
Kami argues that since the community is not given jobs on merit or quota, many of its members have to beg to ‘earn their bread and butter’.
A police official says they have cautioned the watchmen in the area to keep an eye on ‘troublemakers’, who have been putting up the posters. He adds that if any transgender person registers a complaint against miscreants harassing them, stern action will be taken against them.