Stories from Life Skill, Law and Human Rights Trainings/ Workshops
Pakistan is one of those 32 notable countries who have passed Gender Identity Laws & Protection of Transgender Rights Act.
It is my right to be considered an honourable & equal citizen of country
Performance at the Mall Road of Murree
This street theatre tested most of the skills that were part of different Youth Council (YC) workshops such as peer support, developing an appropriate and relevant message, articulation of the messages, dissemination of messages in a group, acquisition of knowledge and its internalization and finally having the confidence to stand in front of a crowd and educate them on basic human rights.
It was heartening to see that when the crowd was assembling and police personnel approached the Executive Director (ED) of VISION to inquire if VISION had the permit from the city administration; some of the YC members came and stood beside the ED and reinforced the response of the ED professionally and i.e., that permits are needed for performances beyond 5-7 minutes and that the performance was not going to be more than 5 minutes.
Knowledge of Law & Human Rights saved us…
Mardan transgender community thanks Mr. Tahir Ali Khilji on his support for the community
“I got the courage to stand up for myself and fight for my rights”
I am Shama, I have been living in Multan for the last eleven year, in Chowk Shahbaz. For the last three years, in this neighborhood, a guy named Gudo, was harassing the khwajasiras (female transgenders). He would extort money on weekly basis, would get into physical and sexual violence, would force us to drink liquor and take drugs. He would use glass shards, as well as knives to hurt us. All of us were scared to death of Gudo.
One of the murats (female transgender), Sherry, registered and FIR against him, However, no immediate action was taken since Gudo had some political connections. Sherry, with a group of murats staged a big protest, and got him arrested. Once Gudo was arrested, some influential people started threatening and exerting pressure on Sherry to withdraw her complaint, otherwise, she would be murdered. Sherry withdrew her complaint against Gudo. After Gudo was released by the police, he came to my dera along with his cohorts, sexually abused my chelas (young female transgenders adopted by me as my daughters), and tried to cut my throat with a broken glass bottle. I was lucky enough not to die.
After that incident, none of us had the courage to complain against Gudo’s brutal behavior because of his connections. We decided to reach out to another police station, there the police officer listened to us sympathetically, and told us to contact him next time it would happen.
So, when Gudo visited my dera to collect the extortion money for the following week, I tricked him into getting in the room and locked him from outside. I called the police officer who came right away and took Gudo in police custody. He was sent to the prison for three years. For the time being, we are all breathing a sigh of relief, and living in peace.
I do want to mention that I am extremely grateful to VISION’s staff for their law sessions at our deras. Only after those sessions we found out that there are prison sentences for carrying arms illegally, harassing other citizens, abusing Khwajasiras (female transgenders) etc.,. Only after attending VISION’s sessions on Basic Human Rights and Khwajasaras legal rights, I realized that Gudo was transgressing and his actions were punishable by law. After I found that out , I got the courage to stand up for myself and fight for my rights.
Thank You, VISION.
“I gathered all my chelas and explained to them that begging is a crime”
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“She told the police that it was not legal to keep the female transgenders in custody without registering a First Investigation Report”
On October 27th, 2020, Amber, a female transgender attended a session at Bubbly’s dera, on Basic Human Rights, delivered by VISION’s team. On November 20th, she again participated in a similar session at Bubbly’s dera with quite a few friends. She narrated her story, which is as follows:
Amber was coming back from Khanewal, with some friends, after finishing a function. It was past midnight, they were stopped by policemen who accused amber and friends of loitering around, and cruising. They took them to the police station, teased the female transgenders, and touched them inappropriately. Amber inquired as to why she and her friends were being kept at the police station. They were told that amber and her companions would find out in the morning. Amber informed the police that she was aware of her basic human rights, that she and her friends had committed no crime.
Moreover, she told the police that it was not legal to keep the female transgenders in custody without registering a First Investigation Report. The policemen realized that the group had knowledge of their Basic Human Rights, and related laws. They then made an excuse that the police just wanted to have a friendly chat and let them all leave the premises.
Amber appreciated VISION’s team’s law briefings and thanked them for providing valuable information.
“But later on some of them followed my lead, and adopted a healthy lifestyle”
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“We found out that although we might not get anywhere with the complaints, we could still manage unpleasant situations by practicing safe behaviors and following the safety protocols”
I am Aarzoo, and I live in Budhla neighborhood, with my Guru (teacher) Nisha.
I earn my living by doing functions (a phrase used in the community for singing and dancing in celebratory events). Most of the people in my neighborhood are not educated and the lifestyle is that of an underdeveloped village. However, many people here have political alliances or affiliations. It is next to impossible to lodge a complaint or take any action against them. Even if you register a complaint, it might not see the daylight. If the complaint gets registered by a miracle, the revenge and aftermath is violent and unmanageable. Therefore, we prefer to stay quiet.
A little while back, VISION’s staff had visited our dera, and delivered a session on physical security. We benefited immensely from that session. We found out that although we might not get anywhere with the complaints, we could still manage unpleasant situations by practicing safe behaviors and following the safety protocols. We realized that if safety protocols are followed, we can avoid many unpleasant situations.
So from that day onwards, we try to do the following:
- We do not let unknown people enter our dera.
- We try to go out in groups when attending functions etc.,.
- We try not to act vulgarly or draw extra attention to ourselves.
- We follow our Guru’s instructions regarding safety security.
- We do not share our contact information with others unnecessary.
- We consult each other before going to a function, especially to places where we think there is some potential danger.
- We try to stay as vigilant as possible.
Since we live in a village, no one ever guides us regarding our physical or share any related information with us. Therefore, we are very grateful to VISION who has been working with us so dedicatedly. We really want them to educate and teach us about more things. We are very happy that we have learned to take better care of our physical security. We are not saying that we are totally safe and secure. But, at least we have information that can make our environment safer. We really want VISION to continue to help us, and we are grateful for its dedication!!!!
“I realized the severity of carrying, or, having illegal arms recovered from one’s dera”
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“Homeless and humiliated, they do not know who to turn to…”
Transgender people are considered to be the downtrodden individuals of the society and are thought to be used as a means of entertainment only. They are pushed out of their homes at an early age because their families are embarrassed to be associated with them.
Homeless and humiliated, they do not know who to turn to and some of them become sex workers. They can’t even travel in public transport without the fear of being ridiculed’, says Guru Kala.
“…within my community I had temper issues and could not control my anger“
‘I was known as the badtameez Khawaja Sira (ill-mannered transgender) within my community I had temper issues and could not control my anger. I would get into fights regularly/, said Kiran. Haji Kiran belongs to the transgender community and lives in Dhok Kala Khan Mohallah, Rawalpindi.
‘I first met the Vision team when I had gone to Guru Kala’s house. They were imparting training and I immediately liked them as the discussion was very informative. During the first ten minutes of the training, my knowledge substantively increased’, recalls the 47 year old Kiran.
“VISION has helped me a lot to make important decisions, one of which was to bring my identity in-front of the whole world”
My name is Sara. I am from Multan and I have worked as a Youth Council member in Vision for one year. I am working together in another organization & doing functions.
During this whole year, I have travelled many times to Islamabad and Murree for trainings and workshops. I was part of a lot of trainings those days. I lacked the confidence which slowly came into me. I am not well educated but I have learned a lot from those trainings. I’ve learnt about SRHR, Safety and Security. I’ve also learnt about what STI’s are and how to avoid them. My fellow Youth Council members helped me a lot. I couldn’t even speak in front of the people, but after attending the workshops & trainings, I became confident.
I’ve also conducted SRHR session and everyone praised me. I was selected for a visit to the United States because of my work but unfortunately, I missed the interview, which I regret, but I’m glad that at least I’ve gone that far in the selection process.
Today I live in a full-fledged sect (Firqa). In my life, VISION has helped me a lot to make important decisions, one of which was to bring my identity in-front of the whole world. So I came to the whole sect.
While working with VISION I had laid the foundation of where I am working now, and today I am so happy to thank VISION and AFY for inspiring me with such courage and passion.
“…if the bond between a Guru and Cheela remains strong then everything will turn out to be okay“
My name is Sana. I live in Multan and I left my home long time. I have been living with my guru for a long time. Recently I got my own home and made my own Deera. If we don’t give money to our Guru he/s would scold us & if he/s got angrier then he/s would completely sideline us and boycott us. I use to think bad about my Guru but didn’t say anything.
One day I sat in one of the sessions of VISION, they told us that if the bond between a Guru and Cheela remains strong then everything will turn out to be okay.
After that, I saw a drama act performed by the VISION team and I started crying that when everyone leaves the Guru then the Guru has to suffer the most.
I do get worried because of the behavior of my Guru but now I have empathy towards my Guru because one day I’ll be a Guru too and I also tell my Cheela that if the bond between a guru and a Cheela remains strong then everything will be alright.
Thank you VISION
“…if I get sick all the people would run away from me, even my friends will also run away from me. Therefore, prevention is better than crying later”
My name is Tehreema and I live in Multan. I do functions and sex work. Our place is being visited by many customers, it is our mean of earning. Team VISION came to us once and they told us about what precautionary measures to be taken while having sex. They also discussed the complications of doing sex without precaution.
The team told us about the sexually transmitted diseases. They give us knowledge that if we will do sex without using condom, then we can suffer from HIV/AIDS. We were informed that we should keep our area clean and hygiene.
Also we were told that free of cost condoms are available at civil hospitals. When I knew about the diseases, I got afraid, because we didn’t use any safety precautions before. Now change has come within me from inside. One male offered me 3000 rupees but he refused to use a condom so I said no to him clearly.
Because if I get sick all the people would run away from me, even my friends will also run away from me. Therefore, prevention is better than crying later.
Now I teach other transgenders also to take safety precautions.