Transgender Pakistan
Pakistani policemen accused of sexually abusing seven transgender personsREUTERS/K. Parvez

Seven transgender persons in Nowshera in Pakistan have accused the district Cantonment police of sexually abusing them. They were reportedly arrested illegally and kept in jail for several hours.

Choti, Diya, Sonia, Nomi, Jagri, Shahzadi and Wafa were arrested on 14 July by the Cantonment police in Nowshera. They have accused the police officers of not only sexually abusing them but also forcing them to dance before them.

"They raided our living quarter and took us to the police station where they raped us all and made jokes about us," Diya said and claimed it was not the first time they were victimised by the police. Earlier also their houses had been raided for no reason and they were reportedly humiliated. Diya added that the police routinely take their money forcefully.

Sahil, another transgender person, said the police had asked them several times to leave the district, adding that the Nowshera District Police Officer (DPO) wanted to deport the "sinful transgender community from the district".

"We can leave a district or a province, but we can't go out of this country. We are also Pakistanis and want to live here in peace," Sahil said.

Meanwhile, following the allegations, a press conference, summoned by TransAction Alliance Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, was held at the Peshawar Press Club criticising the deeds of the police and urging action against the accused. Paro, vice president of the organisation, demanded the end of harassment meted out to the transgender community by the police and society.

"How can we accept such behaviour by people who are appointed by the government for our protection?" she asked, adding: "We are not even safe from our so-called protectors and the physical, sexual and emotional abuse we face on a daily basis must end."

However, this is not the first case of humiliation that the transgender community is facing at the hands of authorities in Pakistan. In June, a transgender person was shot multiple times in Pakistan's Mansehra for allegedly resisting the sexual advances of a group of armed men. The incident came to light just weeks after a transgender activist, Alisha, was fatally shot at Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's provincial capital Peshawar on 22 May.