When Our Society Will Accept Transgender And Treat Them As Human?

Over time, we, as humans, are hoping to make this world a better place where everyone can live freely and equally. Hundreds of thousands of NGOs are actively participating in highlighting numerous unjust cases against humanity under the Human Rights Law of the United Nations. Still, we see multiple instances in which humanity is being ridiculed, humiliated, and disrespected based on their caste, color, creed, race, religion, and gender. Living in a Muslim country, Pakistan, I see daily cases where helpless people become the victim of the brutality of people in power, especially the transgender people. They have been raped, abused, assaulted, and even murdered. Unfortunately, they are already outcasted by their parents and Society.

In the constitution of Pakistan, they have recognized as Hijiras or Khawaja Sera or ‘the third gender.’ Transgender people live in their own self-developed communities run by the head called Guru in every city and town. They live in weak economic conditions in these communities and work for their Guru by earning money through dancing on marriage festivals or as sex workers. And the most significant inequality they are facing right now is that the state has no constitution against the rape of transgender or men. Julie Khan, a transwoman, was gang-raped in her native city Faisalabad of province Punjab, for the first time in 2016. When she reported the sexual assault case against the criminals, she was asked to shut her mouth for some monetary compensation. She denied the offer and started raising her voice on social media against the injustice. Police took action and arrested a few of the criminals, but the rest is still breathing freely.

Having been outcasted by her family after the incident, she moved to town Sialkot. To seek an escape from the shame and disgrace, she lived in the transgender community and worked with them. Meanwhile, she was again encountered by another gang, cruelly beaten up, raped, and manhandled throughout the night. She reported the crime and raised her voice through a social media series named ‘naked truth,’ which got a considerable applaud by the public.

Still, nobody raised a voice against the criminals who are sexually assaulting and murdering many transwomen like Julie daily. Julie continued talking about the rights of transwomen and about herself as well. She protested on social media and uploaded several videos where she spoke about the hidden realities of trans communities and Gurus.

Recently, the Guru of her community, Najma from the city, Golra Sharif, attempted murder and was under arrest by the authorities. A friend of Julie, named Rosy, reported the murder case against Guru Najma. Therefore, she was beaten up by the other transwomen for going against the Guru. When Julie raised a voice against her friend Rosy, she got arrested under an allegedly fabricated case on the 10th of august, 2020. Afterward, she has been sent to men’s Adiyala Jail.

According to her lawyer, Hassan Niazi, it’s a life-threatening situation for her as she is being held with the men in the jail where she is not secure, both physically and mentally. The reason why she is still alive is just that she is an internet sensation and a social media activist. Otherwise, she has long been disappeared without getting noticed by the Gurus for going against their community rules and changing the minds of other transwomen for freedom and equality.

In honor of her efforts and to support her voice, the campaign ‘Justice for Julie’ has started since her own community is standing against her. Let’s hope that Julie gets heard and given justice.

The Generation that Knew Violence as the State Policy

It was a Sunday afternoon in 2018. Samuel was eight and he recalls the exact minute in which the bus arrived to the stop. 12:32. His grandma grabbed him by the hand, and as they were getting off they could hear a firing, a very familiar sound to the ears of the kid.

Samuel lives at the urban slums of Cota 905, one of the most dangerous places from the most violent city in Latin America: Caracas. That Sunday he witnessed a fight between two drunk men. One was pointing a knife at the other, while cursing him, as if he was almighty. His opponent had a gun, illegally according to Venezuelan law.

They tried to passed by, speeding the pace and acting naturally. Grandma gave Samuel a tangerine and as he took it with the right arm another shot was fired. The bullet nearly impacted him, but instead it brushed his moving arm. Two years have passed but the scar remains, and so does the episode.

That year 4 children were assassinated each day in Venezuela, according to a report published by the Community Learning Center CECODAP, a NGO that defends the right to a safe childhood. Almost 1500 minors died in the hands of violence. Some because of lost bullets, others while being robbed, many in gang clashes. But detectives registered 280 of those deaths as “resistance to authority”. We, journalists and human rights defenders, call it by its name: extrajudicial executions.

For many Venezuelan extrajudicial executions can be considered as gang clashes. Because of the increasing criminality rates, Nicolas Maduro’s regime created the “Special Actions Forces” FAES in 2016, an extermination corps to battle the criminal gangs. By that year many children from poor slums of Venezuela such as Cota 905 dreamed of becoming a “malandro” (a criminal), instead of a police officer. While the State officers barely could make a living, kids saw how malandros had all money, women and power and every time gangsters made something wrong, they still got unscathed.

But then in 2018 FAES got to execute 5.287 people, including those 280 minors. And children saw that too.

In 2018 Aaron, whom was eight by then, woke up at 2:30 am to the shouter of opposition protesters and tear gas. When he looked out the window he saw a dead body and young rioters crying while the police were leaving. In 2019 nine-years-old Diego could not enter to his home at Lídice because a someone killed a man in front of his humble house, detectives arrived the following day. In march 2020 another kid called Diego heard a gang fire shooting outside his house and he feared when FAES killed 14 people of the group.

Now that children from poor slums of Caracas have seen homicides so closely we don’t know who do they look up to anymore. For what I’ve perceived, they just want to feel safe. I know I aspire a country in which poverty doesn’t force anyone to immerse in criminality and in which violence ceases to be the State Policy.

The Struggles of Being a Young Person in Macedonia

What does the youth struggle with? What do they want? Where did our spirit go?
The opportunities and resources conditioning young people in Macedonia (and anywhere, really) are scarce and inadequate – they are seemingly present, and they are within our reach…but in reality, they are far away. On the other hand, what we need would be simple to achieve if we didn’t lack self-honesty and strong values. That’s why we are so easily manipulated and that’s why we can’t have the nice things we want in life.
We are here and we think we have a voice, but we don’t. We are actors in a play that constantly changes, but the main idea is always the same. At this particular moment, I am singer and a writer, and that is the role I have in the play called society. But, this changes. I see myself as nothing more than a part of the youth. And yet, the people here in Macedonia can quickly make you turn bitter and hateful. I am a part of youth, but the only exception is – I believe I can make some sort of change, and I attempt to do it every single day – that is an immense struggle many of us have felt upon themselves. And while it’s comforting to know and feel that you’re not alone, I feel like the benefit of that knowledge is taken away from us by the very thing that is supposed to turn us into creative and hopeful creatures – our awful country.

Why are we discouraged?
Well, when it comes to us and our role in society, history has taught us many times that that our intellectual capacity and energy are the only things that can really make a change. But the older people don’t look at it like that anymore – its almost as if they have forgotten what being young feels like. How big our emotions are. How strong we think we are, and how scared we actually are. How we think we can conquer the world. Our hopes, our dreams. How stubborn we are. How devoted we can be when it comes to things that we feel with our whole beings. The older people, including our parents, think we are spoiled, or corrupted, or stupid; that we are idealists, that we think we know it all. Their “life experience” is the only thing that matters to them – anyone who tries to deny that is disrespectful and doesn’t have a right to an opinion. We are being marginalized every single day, and it is draining our energy and killing our spirits – and that is very saddening, because our ideas are the only things that are still uncorrupted and pure in this mess of a country.

The other thing that is discouraging is the economic situation here. The pay for every possible job you could imagine is extremely low, our parents are working at miserable workplaces with a miserable pay. So, naturally, we start working as early as 15 years old. You can find easily find high school and university students working in a café, trying to earn a few bucks so they can maybe, hopefully, go out that weekend. It is a struggle to make ends meet here. There is a big, big gap between the highest and the lowest layer of society, which creates frustration in the ones who have to work for their own money and balance working and studying and being socially active…and staying sane, while the others have everything they need without lifting a finger. And, those people are the same ones that put you down. They are the ones who don’t have any opinions about any relevant topics. The ones who laugh at you for trying to create something of lasting value, or for speaking your mind. The youth that is humble and thankful does not have a voice, and the ones who do all face the same fate – a brutal slap across the face and a discouraging realization that not a single thing they do will be recognized, or god forbid appreciated. This creates a void that just keeps getting wider and deeper with time.

We are taught to keep our voices down, especially young women. The only issue is – we don’t know how to do that. The moment you realize what you want to say is the moment you discover yourself. We don’t know ourselves, we only know the picture we paint for others.

The void is present, and it’s deep – but we should focus on filling it. The void is in each and every one of us, and we should fill it in ourselves individually. We are not brave enough. We are scared to use our voices – we don’t even know how loud we can be and how many inspiring words our hearts carry inside.
We struggle with expression and with being different. But then again, some of us know how to pour the contents of their souls in the right places. We know what we need and when we need it.

What matters to youth?
Our stories matter. Our solidarity matters. Words matter. Music matters. Poetry matters.
The air we breathe, our education, our leaders. Art and style matter. Free expression. Our ideas, our confidence, our crafts.

I personally struggle with expressing myself clearly, whether I’m writing lyrics to a song or having a conversation with someone; there are so many thoughts flowing through my mind simultaneously. Sometimes, I can’t seem to find the right words to say or the time to free them. Life flows quickly, and so does time. You need to recognize and use the right moment, but more importantly, you need to use every moment. This is not limited to young people in Macedonia. This is a problem everywhere. Only through solidarity will we be able to overcome it.

Free expression of young people is the future of everything. Even though the future is not really what it used to be, I believe that each and every one of us can contribute to a better society – a dreamy place where you feel can safe and understood, and I hope that one day we will achieve that.

Redefining 2020

2020 has not been my favorite year. At the start of the year, I had so many things to be excited for. Plans to travel, plans to be with loved ones, weddings, comedy shows, concerts, plans to push my career forward but everything fell through. Adapting to this corona-lifestyle has been a battle, to say the least.

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