Police Brutality from Margins to Centre

November 26, 2010. It was Amir’s birthday, an annual function that is celebrated by most Eunuchs. The police illegally raided the occasion based on reports that drugs and alcohol were being consumed behind closed doors. The police arrested most of the people at the party as well as Amir. While the police were transporting them, Amir in fear of polices reprisal tried to escape and jumped of the police van. The Khwajasara community alleges that he was shot at by the police and this caused his death while the police allege that he jumped off the van and hit his head upon the pavement that caused his death. Either way, there was no autopsy to determine the cause of death, so it will remain a mystery. Continue reading “Police Brutality from Margins to Centre”

“Eunuchs” and Rights

The Petition

Under the aegis of his organization the Insaan Welfare Trust, Mr. Aslam Khaki, advocate, filed a constitutional petition (Constitutional Petition no. 63/2009) under article in the Supreme Court alleging the infringement of the fundamental rights of “Eunuch’s” (a term that is used as an English translation for “Hijra”).

The incident that forms the basis of the petition is “the case of molestation, humiliation and arresting the most vulnerable the most oppressed section of the society i.e. Eunuch or middle sex (also called as She males) by the Taxila Police on 23/1/2009″. Continue reading ““Eunuchs” and Rights”

Hijra, Marriage and the Law

On 24 May, 2010, in Peshawar, Rani, Malik and 45 other people were arrested for holding a wedding ceremony. Rani is a known Hijra (third gender/trans woman) while Malik is a cisgender man who also had two previous marriages. Both Rani and other prominent members of the Hijra community denied the fact that a wedding ceremony was taking place, and said that the function was in fact a “salgirah” which is an annual function that is celebrated by a Hijra or Zanana where other members of the community are also invited.

The police’s story is that station house officer Shahzad, while on patrol in the area, received information that a wedding ceremony was taking place between a Hijra and a man. On receiving this information he raided Rani and Malik’s residence along with other police officers and arrested Rani, Malik and all the guests present there. They also took into custody the clothes belonging to both Rani and Malik, musical instruments found at the scene and other items including a Kalashnikov. Continue reading “Hijra, Marriage and the Law”

Chay is For…

In the Urdu language, the letter chay is used as a euphemism for derogatory or taboo expressions. Some of these expressions are “choot” (vagina) and “chootia” (lit. of the vagina, but signifying stupidity that ought to be dismissed). The use of such expressions of insult is pervasive in the Urdu language and extremely problematic. In its original and vernacular usage, these words and their euphemism, “chay”, associate women with that which is imbecilic, derogatory, bad, taboo and wrong.

We have named our magazine Chay as an act of resistance to the popular pejorative meaning attached to words like “choot” and “chootia”. It is both an attempt to reclaim our language and engage with some of its sexist trappings.

We understand that the sexism, patriarchy and heterosexism that are imbued in our language are only reflective of the complex, larger socio-cultural, political and economic conditions that persist in our society. Therefore, any project of re-appropriation and reclamation of not only language but also our place in society is far greater than just naming a magazine. But Chay is at the very least an initiation: an open invitation for fostering discourse that displaces the dominant and normative conceptions about womanhood, sex, sexuality, masculinity and so much more.

We want “choot” and all other words like it to be identified with empowerment, self-actualization and life-giving rather than weakness, filth and diminution. More than anything then Chay Magazine is a project of resistance, redefinition, reappropriation, reclamation and reinterpretation of the dominant discourse so that we can be fully empowered citizens of our country, our societies and our lives.