Gang beat up and shave trans woman’s hair off in humiliating attack

A kidnap gang tortured and shaved a transgender woman’s head after she refused to pay them extortion money, activists have claimed.

Shakeela, 27, was allegedly taken during the first day of Eid last week and held against her will for three hours.

She says she was threatened with further violence if she did not pay the gang one million rupees (£5,200).

Shakeela has come forward with Pakistan’s Trans Action support group to put pressure on local police to investigate the attack.

Pakistan is a deeply religious conservative country and homosexuality is illegal, but last year new laws were introduced letting people self-identify their gender on official documents.

Despite the recent progression, Farzana Jan, the president of Trans Action, told Metro.co.uk that transgender women are at the mercy of gangs in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Farzana, who was the first Pakistani to have a gender-neutral ‘X’ passport, says 64 transgender people have been killed in the province since 2015, while more than 600 have been tortured.

She told Metro.co.uk: ‘There is an organised group of criminal gangs who specifically target the transgender community because they are more vulnerable.

‘They’re involved not only in the sexual exploitation of the transgender community but they extort money from them.

‘They are seen as weak and easy targets.’

Farzana said Shakeela, who works as a dancer in the city of Mardan, had paid the gang twice before.

She said: ‘Initially she paid 40,000 rupees and then 50,000 rupees.

It’s a kind of safety money which you pay and you can work and dance in the area.

‘Now they have demanded a huge amount. They’ve asked for one million Pakistani rupees.

‘It’s impossible for Shakeela to pay this money.’

Farzana said attacks like these ‘are not new’, adding: ‘This is happening throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

‘These organised criminal gangs are active all over the province.

We see a large number of people who either pay money or don’t and they are killed or tortured.’

She claims some arrests are made after attacks are shared on social media but they never lead to convictions.

She said: ‘The violence is high on the ground but the prosecution and conviction rate is zero.’

Pakistan passed the transgender persons protection of rights act in May 2018, but Farzana says ‘the progress and implementation is almost nil’.

She added: ‘Yes, there is some kind of change at the grassroots level but the challenge of the transgender community all across Pakistan, and especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, remains the same.’