Equipping the Sindh Police to effectively serve the Transgender Community

12 January 2024, Islamabad - Reaching out to the police to file complaints is a daunting task for anybody seeking justice, particularly in the marginalized districts of Sindh. For the transgender community, this presents another set of challenges, where a simple filing of a complaint can turn into an ordeal due to societal discrimination, misrepresentation, and prejudice associated with dealing with the transgender community at large. Lack of awareness among police officers regarding transgender rights and their specific needs often results in insensitive questioning, procedural hurdles, and even a reluctance to register complaints altogether. These challenges discourage a majority of the transgender community from seeking help, leaving them vulnerable and isolated in the face of harassment, assault, or other forms of injustice, perpetuating the hardships faced by the transgender community in Sindh.

Recognizing this critical gap, a new Specialized Training Program on Better Handling of Transgender Complainants and Victims of Violence at Police Stations, funded by the US Embassy’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and conducted by UNODC, equips police officers with the tools and understanding to better serve the transgender community.

A diverse group of 49 police officers, including 6 women, underwent conceptual and practice-based modules in two streams of training conducted by senior experts, including 2 transgenders activists deployed as speakers by UNODC from 2-4 and 9-11 January 2024 at the Central Police Office Karachi, Sindh. The training modules aimed at equipping the participants with knowledge and skills that ensure transgender individuals feel safe, respected, and heard when they report crimes or seek assistance.

Through role-plays and interactive sessions, the participants learned to approach transgender-related cases with empathy and cultural awareness. Female officers' inclusion is particularly vital in this context, allowing for deeper understanding and connection within the Sindhi context.

The program further empowered police officers with skills to handle complaints and cases presented by or against transgender community within the parameters of legal framework, ensuring justice regardless of gender identity.

Human rights formed a core aspect, emphasizing that every citizen, transgender or otherwise, deserves respect and protection. Proper registration of complaints and the process of the First Information Reports (FIRs) was also covered, ensuring accurate documentation and access to justice.

Ashiq Ali, Sub Inspector, Korangi appreciated the training and said, "This is the first ever training that we have been exposed to on this subject. It has provided a unique perspective not just for awareness but encouraging positive behaviors and adoption of a process at police stations for effective handling of complainants from the transgender community.” A transgender speaker, Kami Sid, working as an activist for transgender rights said, "Behavior counts at both ends! Transgender individuals also need to behave and act respectfully when they approach a law enforcement officer so that they are heard and dealt with courteously."

The initiative is a flagship intervention that transcends training and is all set to pave the way for delivering justice where every citizen, irrespective of their gender, feels heard, respected, and protected.


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