September 25th, 2021
By Hamid Riaz & Hassan Raza
On Friday, September 24th, a demonstration was organized by the Khwaja Sirah community outside the Karachi Press Club to protest against the rising tide of organized violence perpetrated by the ‘Beela’ community against trans genders and effeminate boys across Pakistan. The protest was attended by dozens of Khwaja Siras and members of the general public who chanted slogans against the “Beela Syndicate” and called for an intra-community awakening against this oppression.
The protest was ignited by an organized Beela attack against a group of Khwaja Sirahs on the night of September 19.
Fauzia one of the victims of the horrendous attack on September 19 and a vocal campaigner for Khwaja Sirah rights in Pakistan told Voicepk.net that such organized Beela attacks are very common in Pakistan, though this time around the public outcry was very heartening.
“In the short term, our demands are very simple. We want all the culprits behind the September 19th attack arrested and brought to justice but in the long term, we want to establish Beela-Moorat violence as a concept in the imagination of Pakistan’s citizenry, so that people have an idea of what this violence is all about. We would want the police to be sensitized towards this issue as well,” explains Fauzia
On the night of September 19th Dr, Moiz and Fauzia arrived at a farm house in the outskirts of Karachi to attend the birthday party of one of their fellow Khwaja Sirahs, Shehzadi. As soon as the group reached the gate of the farmhouse their car was surrounded by a group of about one dozen Beelas who pointed the duo out specifically and tried to assault them. Instead of running away or cowering in fear Dr. Moiz and Fauzia decided to fight back. Because of Fauzia and Moiz’s brave resistance, the dozen or so Beelas were forced to flee the scene. Doctor Moiz later explained the episode in a video that instantly went viral on social media, bringing the unfortunate episode to light.
“At least a dozen Beelas surrounded our car and pointed out me and Fauzia in particular. They forcefully tried to ply open the front door of our car. Afterward, they grabbed me from my shirt and tried to drag me out of the car. One of them punched me in the face, and there are still marks of the violence. But as soon as the man punched me something came over me and I decided to fight back. That is when I started kicking them in self-defense,” explains Dr. Moiz.
The call for yesterday’s protest was given by an organization called the Gender Initiative Alliance (GIA) which is a not-for-profit organization working for the welfare of the Khwaja Sirah community in Pakistan. Along with the protest GIA members also held a press conference inside the Karachi Press Club where they demanded effective legislation from the Sindh Assembly directed towards curbing gender-based violence against Pakistan’s Khwaja Sira community. The GIA also demanded that the provincial government step up its cooperation with non-governmental organizations that are already working for the welfare of their community.
“Our legal framework is insufficient to deal with the Beela menace ravaging the transgender community of Pakistan. According to our research, only a single area of Karachi has over 150 members of the Beela syndicate. You can only imagine how many of them are spread all across Karachi. When incidents of violence do occur and we get an FIR registered these people exploit the legal loopholes and get bails almost instantly. Once out they go back to their activities without remorse,” explains Shehzadi Rae a case officer at the GIA.
Not all protests organized by the Khwaja Sira community have as much traction as this one. Ms. Fauzia informed Voicepk.net that one such protest held at the same venue last year was attacked by a journalist, who tried to ram his car into the protesting Khwaja Siras.
According to data collected by the GIA last year in Karachi alone, there were 41 cases of violence against Khwaja Siras were registered in Karachi while 4 Khwaja Siras were murdered and one went missing from the city.