Transgendered people complain of victimisation by ASF personnel


Airport Security Forces (ASF), at least at the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport, have apparently not been given any standard operating procedures for dealing with transgendered people – a fact that became apparent this week when four people were harassed by security personnel long enough to miss their flight. The group of four, including Sarah Gill, the government’s focal person for transgendered people, had arrived at the airport in the afternoon, almost an hour before the scheduled time for their flight from Karachi to Islamabad. Their nightmare began right before they were about to enter the airport premises. “We were first stopped by the guard outside the departure gates,” 23-year-old Gill, who is also a student of medicine, told Pakistan Today. “Once we got past him, we were stopped at the next security check.”
The ASF personnel apparently could not decide whether male or female officers would conduct the pat down checks on Gill and her companions. Some began to argue amongst themselves, while others harassed the group in other ways. When they were finally let through, only 25 minutes were left for the flight to depart, and the group was told that they were late and could not be boarded.
The four of them eventually managed to get another flight later in the day – this time to Peshawar, from where they planned to go to Islamabad by road. The second phase of their nightmare began once they had boarded the airplane. While some passengers groped them, others whiled away the time by issuing dire threats to the group. “They told us to cover our heads and faces, or the Taliban would kill us in Peshawer,” 27-year-old Anjali said. “It was extremely harrowing.”
At the Peshawer airport, porters and other personnel continued the harassment, some even demanding sexual favours in return for money. ‘They look at us and just assume that we’re willing to sell our bodies. This is insane. We’re glad we got out of all of it alive. At the Karachi airport, ASF personnel could simply have asked us if we were more comfortable being checked by men or women,’ the group maintained. ‘It would have saved us a lot of time and hassle. But they wouldn’t have been able to harass us if they had resolved issues so easily. What’s the point of debating about adding the third gender to identity cards when systemic issues of this sort are left unresolved?’
“I travel a lot, and while harassment exists at many levels, it never reached this stage before,” Gill said. “That’s probably because I usually travel alone and also because I look like a woman. Some of the group haven’t transitioned completely, and when the security personnel saw so many of us together, they decided to have a field day. If they’re so concerned about this issue, why don’t they simply hire transgendered people for the job?”


  1. imagine Ms Urooj ! If you would have been deployed there for pat down duty what you had done. It really embarrassing for a female to go through such process.

  2. Consider ur self a ASF female employee n than my question is would u like to pat down a tansgendered person according to it is defined as
    "trans·gen·der  [trans-jen-der, tranz‐] Show IPA
    a person appearing or attempting to be a member of the opposite sex, as a transsexual or habitual cross-dresser."
    this works in both ways

Comments are closed.