International Transgender Day of Visibility: End impunity for attacks against transgender people

The Pakistani authorities should urgently investigate a series of violent attacks against transgender women in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and bring perpetrators to justice, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Have Only Positive Expectations (HOPE) and the Sathi Foundation said today on the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

In the month of March 2022 alone, four transgender women were killed and at least eight injured in a spate of attacks. On 19 March, Mano was killed in Jehangira Bazaar in Peshawar. Earlier, Chanda was killed and Zamarud was critically injured in an attack in Mardan. Before this, five transgender women were shot in Mansehra, and one of them was killed. In another incident, Coconut was killed and Wara was injured when they were returning after performing at a function in Charsadda district.

In most of these cases, the perpetrators are members of organized gangs, intimate partners or acquaintances of the victims.

“The transgender community is one of the most vulnerable in Pakistan, facing systematic exclusion, marginalization, and even criminalization,” said Livio Zilli, ICJ’s Senior Legal Advisor and UN representative. “Yet, human rights violations and abuses against transgender people often go unnoticed – both by the State and society.”

According to data collected by the ICJ and its partner organizations, HOPE and Sathi Foundation, at least 20 transgender people were killed in Pakistan in 2021. Transgender people were also subjected to rape, sexual harassment, abduction, blackmail and other serious crimes.

Perpetrators of crimes against transgender people are rarely brought to justice. Often, victims, their families and the members of the community are pressurised into “compromising” with those responsible due to harassment, threats, influence of the perpetrators and lack of resources. With respect to the human rights violations and abuses against transgender people documented by the ICJ, HOPE and the Sathi Foundation, complaints were filed with the police or other relevant authorities in only 34 per cent of the cases.

Even where victims and their families pursue cases with the authorities, the police either fail to register complaints or carry out prompt, thorough, competent and effective investigations that could eventually lead to the prosecution and conviction of the perpetrators. In some case, the police and other authorities are either directly or indirectly complicit in the attacks.

“The apathy and complicity of the police in human rights violations and abuses against transgender people has deepened mistrust between the transgender community and the State,” said Livio Zilli. “The authorities must bridge this trust deficit and ensure transgender people are provided equal protection of the law without discrimination.”

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa authorities should undertake prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations into the recent attacks on transgender people in the province. They should also ensure that those responsible for these crimes are brought to justice.

The provincial government should also end intimidation and harassment of transgender people by the local authorities, and ensure the right to dignity of transgender people is at all times respected.


Livio Zilli, Senior Legal Adviser & UN Representative, International Commission of Jurists, T +41 (0)22 979 38