Clad in a floral shalwar kameez
with her hair swept up, Ashi Jaan was one of the first transgender women to arrive at the protest on August 6 in Lahore, Pakistan. Her demand was simple: no more rape.
"We are raped and abused from the first moment we embrace our identity, and no one supports us. But this time, we will not back down until the government comes forward and punishes those who raped my sisters," Jaan told Refinery29.
Soon, other members of the transgender rights movement joined her, arriving in rickshaws in groups of five. Known as Khwaja Siras
(a colloquial term for transgender people) in Pakistan, they gathered together outside of the Lahore Press Club to protest the gang rape
of three members of their community over several days in the nearby city of Faisalabad.
On July 26, two transgender women — Julie and Nomi, who identified themselves only by their first names — said that they were brutalised in their own home
. They accused members of a well-known criminal gang in Faisalabad of assaulting them. The women said that throughout the night, they were abused physically and sexually with screwdrivers and glass bottles, among other objects. When morning came, the assailants, who the women said had forced their way inside with guns and knives, fled.
Julie told Refinery29 that she had been raped numerous times before. Even while they were still in the hospital, they received threats from the men they say attacked them, Julie said. The intimidating phone calls warned them they would be murdered, mutilated, disfigured with acid, and raped again, she explained. She is currently living in a safe house in Islamabad. Both she and Nomi are in hiding because of the threats they face.