Karachi: A Pakistani transgender person, who is an active organiser of a movement aimed at seeking an end to the demolition of Karachi’s working-class settlements and markets, has been allegedly tortured and sexually assaulted one day before a climate march held here. The organisers of the ‘People’s Climate March’ that took place under the banner of the Karachi Bachao Tehreek (KBT) in the city on Sunday said in a statement that one of their organisers, a transgender person, was tortured and sexually assaulted on Saturday by some persons who were looking to “extract” information about the march.
The incident took place when the transgender activist was returning home in Nazimabad after attending an organisational meeting and was picked up and held hostage for three hours. The victim was tortured and assaulted before being released. “We organised a People’s Climate March in Karachi. The night before our protest, we held an organising meeting. One of our organisers, a trans woman, was abducted on her way home. She was tortured and raped,” the KBT said in a tweet.
The KBT suggested that police were involved in the violence against the transgender person.
Shahzadi Rai, the Gender Interactive Alliance’s (GIA) ‘violence case manager’, told the media that the KBT activist was “terrified and appeared reluctant to lodge a case”.
Shahzadi, who deals with cases of torture against the transgender community, said the suspects asked the activist in captivity about the details of the march programme and speakers.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and ordered the inspector general of police to conduct an inquiry into the case and submit a report to him, according to a tweet from his office.
The Ministry of Human Rights also took notice of the incident, saying its transgender rights expert was in contact with the victim’s guardian. “Our Transgender Rights Expert, Reem, has been in touch with the relevant people including the victim’s guardian and our ministry will be contacting the Sindh government to ensure her protection,” it said in a tweet.
According to the Dawn newspaper, dozens of participants of the People’s Climate March had taken out a rally near Karachi’s Boat Basin on Sunday evening to draw the authorities’ attention towards the adverse impacts of climate change, particularly the perceived environmental disaster unfolding in Malir and adjoining areas allegedly because of trees being felled and agricultural land being destroyed to pave the way for mega housing projects.
Activists belonging to around 10 political parties and civil society organisations had arrived near Clifton beach and tried to march towards Bilawal House but police officials prevented them from moving further, according to organisers and witnesses, it said.
The marchers including men, women and children chanted slogans against Bahria Town Karachi, DHA Karachi, the occupation of locals’ lands, construction of the Malir Expressway, destruction of agricultural land in Malir and Gadap, demolition of homes located on Gujjar and Orangi Nullahs, and other issues, the report said.