Pakistani police say armed men opened fire on a group of transgender people, killing one, in an affluent neighbourhood in Pakistan’s city of Karachi.
Aurangzeb Khattak, a police officer, said the shooting occurred overnight on Wednesday. He said passengers in a 4WD vehicle first harassed the group by throwing rotten eggs at them and then opened fire, resulting in the death of Chanda Sharmeeli.
Khattak said shell casings from a 9mm pistol were found at the scene and that investigators were using surveillance camera footage to trace the 4WD vehicle and arrest the culprits.
Kami Sid, the country’s first transgender model and a fellow of Sharmeeli, told Al Jazeera that the men in the car were “drunk” and forced the murdered person to sit in the car with them.
Transgender people are known as Khusra or Hijra in Pakistan. In conservative South Asia, where sexual relations outside marriage are taboo and homosexuality is illegal, they are often treated as sex objects and often become the victims of violent assault.
Last week, provisional results from Pakistan’s census showed that at least 10,418 people identified themselves as transgender in the country’s first official population count since 1998.
According to a government health ministry estimate made in 2015, however, that number is closer to at least 150,000.
“Most transgenders can’t even file police reports because they don’t have identification, and when they go to police stations they are teased ridiculed.”
In June, the country issued its first third-gender passport to a transgender activist from the northern city of Peshawar.
In 2009, Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognise a third gender, allowing those identifying as neither male nor female to obtain national identity documents.