ISLAMABAD – Pakistani police announced they have arrested 10 members of a criminal gang for the beating of a transgender woman and video taping the attack.
The arrests were made Monday in the eastern city of Sialkot after the attackers posted a video online of them flogging the victim. According to Police Chief Abid Khan, five of the suspects have been charged with torture and extortion while the other five are under investigation. The video, which went viral, showed the victim being held down and repeatedly whipped while she cried out in pain.
“They beat us all night and what they did to us is so awful.”
The lead perpetrator in the attack, Jajja Butt, claims the incident was a private matter and he was dating the victim. “She was my lover but was physically involved with other men,” he told the Express Tibune from his jail cell, while strangely adding that he hoped the video would help end violence in the transgender community.
The victim, who is known as Julie, claims the transgender women who were inside her house were all raped and tortured. “They beat us all night and what they did to us is so awful. It was so awful that if it ever happened to one of your children, it would break you,” Julie said. “All night, they made us drink urine and spat on us and kept beating our heads with their shoes,” she also added. Another woman in the house claims the gang members stormed into the residence. They beat and tortured one of the women while shaving the heads of several others. The victim is urging Pakistan’s government to do more to protect the country’s transgender community from abuse and discrimination.
Transgender people in Pakistan are often considered social outcasts while resorting to begging and prostitution to survive. The transgender women, known in Pakistan as “Hijras,” live in fear of attacks. Most either change their name or go by only one name. Despite the challenges faced by many transgender women in Pakistan, in some ways they are afforded more rights than transgender women in the United States. The Pakistani recognizes the Hijras as an official third gender. The country has also expanded their rights by issuing federal protections and recognition, something that has not happened on a federal basis in the United States.