Harassment of Trans Person by Police Caught on Camera (Video)

The video reminds of me of those passed around by cellphone in Iraq (like this) and others I have seen, like this one from Ghana. Afghan police ‘capture’ a cross-dressing man and interrogate him and a friend, and, like in those other videos, the fate of those in the video is unknown.

Expat Afghani writer Nushin Arbabzadah, an author, editor and scholar, explains what is going on in The Guardian – and offers some hope for that country from the comments it has attracted on Youtube.

The video is called “A man dressed as a woman – but why?”

It begins with a policeman ordering the chador (full length covering) to be removed, then the wig.

The victim’s ordeal goes on for what seems like eternity as he endures humiliating comments and laughter from the police officers.

“Please have mercy, don’t make fun of me,” he whispers.

“Boy! Face the camera,” they shout, forcing him to remove the fake breasts from inside his top. The breasts turn out to be a pair of socks filled with dough.

“Dough to make the breasts feel softy-soft,” an officer shouts amid laughter.

Following the discovery of the dough, a barrage of questions ensues in the video. “Why are you dressed like this? Where did you put the makeup on? What is all this about? What have you two been up to?”

This final question is addressed to a shy young man leaning away but standing next to the transvestite. The two were arrested together. “I was shopping for clothes,” the cross-dresser whispers, taking off the bangles. He is trying to tell the officers that his dressing up is just a silly, harmless game.

“Put the bangles back on,” a police officer orders. The victim reluctantly obeys, his eyes filled with tears.

“Please, officer, we haven’t committed a crime,” the victim’s companion pleads, turning away from the camera.

Like with the Iraq and Ghana videos, Arbabzadah reports it ‘doing the rounds’ via mobile phones and generating debate. The victim in the video is a ‘ezak’ in the local language, a negative word similar to ‘fag’ but meaning anyone outside the gender norm.

Arbabzadah says that the comments left question whether the man is actually a suicide bomber, sent by Pakistani secret intelligence. Others say that police shouldn’t waste their time this way. Others say that men cross-dressing is a sign of ‘cultural anarchy.’ A couple say he should be killed.

But a number say they felt sorry for him.

“The man has committed no crime. Cross-dressing is a psychological condition. What he needs is treatment rather than public humiliation.”

“During the Taliban, we had an ezak in our neighborhood. His brothers used to hit him for acting like a female and finally killed him.

“I am worried about this man’s future. His family is bound to kill him because of the shame he has brought on them. To protect this unfortunate person, people should stop sharing this video.”

Arbabzadah says she is greatly encouraged by such comments:

Amid such dark despair, the sane voices of compassion that appeared alongside the aggressive comments offered a glimmer of hope because they showed that Afghans are beginning to understand that transvestites are not criminals.

Related stories:

Afghan Woman First Raped, Then Charged With Adultery- EU Bans Documentary

New Arrests of Gays in Iraq

Breakthrough on Transgender Rights in…Kyrgyzstan

Photo from FotoRita via flickr


Jermane Hughes
Jermane Hughes4 years ago

Christopher, I was actually reading that earlier and I'm not going to lie, that was my first thought when I read it. But I had to think again and get real... I understand we must welcome everyone, I have no problem with that, whether I agree with homosexuality or not.

Christopher C.
Chris C.4 years ago

Steve R..."F"-you you ignorant idiot! Such a worthless piece of crap.

Christopher C.
Chris C.4 years ago

PTL...Poor old St. Paul is so misunderstood. Two-thousand years ago St. Paul condemned gay sex as "against nature" and his viewpoint has been taken for justification for centuries of persecution against gay people. A careful reading of St. Paul"s Epistle to the Romans, shows Paul was condemning straight Christian men and women who were having sex with temple prostitutes of the same sex in pagan Rome. The unnatural action was trying to teach the Roman Christians to lead a moral life and worship God in some measure of purity, "decently and in order." Paul was not writing about gay people having sex with gay people. He probably never heard of same sex people whose natural state ws sex with people of the same gender. He never heard of same gender people being in a relationships with each other. He never conceived of gay people wanting to marry other gay people. The word homosexual was not invented till the 19th century. Certainly the words gay and lesbian are a tad more recent in usage than was the case in St. Paul's time in the first century. Paul was condeming unnatural behavior among straight people. Taking Paul's words out of context is a favorite tool of Christian fundamentalists as well as Biblically illiterate critics of Christianity. The fact that people down through the ages lead on Paul's words to condemn homosexuality is no excuse for the intelligent to do the same in making their case for the rights of homosexuals.

Christopher C.
Chris C.4 years ago

Jermane: If you read all of 18:1 through 19:29 you'd understand that Lot, Abrahams nephew and an outsider (alien) to the citizens of Sodom. Additionally the phrase uttered by the men of Sodom, "Bring them out to us, so that we may know them" does not have to be interpreted in a sexual manner (like so many so-called christian pure minds always seem to travel in that direction). The mis-interpretation of it is to think of it as a gang-rape. But it was actually part of the towns people to find out who these strangers are that are staying at the house of a resident alien. By reading 18:1, one can compare & contrast the hospitality offered to the strangers by Abraham and Lot to that of citizens of Sodom. This lack of welcome seems to be Jesus understanding of the sin of Sodom as indicated in Matthew 10:14-15, Ezekiel 16:49 refers to the Sin of Sodom: "This was the guilt of your sister Sodom; she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy". There is nothing in the story of Sodom that justifies condemnation of homosexuality. There is much in the story that suggests strangers be welcomed , given hospitality. How ironic that this story is used to condemn and be "inhospitable" to lesbians and gay men, the "strangers" among us. Those who really commit the sin of sodom are those who do not welcome the different ones, the strangers among us.

Jermane Hughes
Jermane Hughes4 years ago

And Kathy, do not try to tell me what is wrong and right when what is right and what I am saying is clearly in the Bible. Like I have stated time and time again, if a man or woman has been born homosexual, they need to be born again. End of story. YOU need to educate yourself, homosexuality is a sin and there is no going around it.

Jermane Hughes
Jermane Hughes4 years ago

Um woah, Marie. Maybe you should read everything I wrote. I spoke my mind and then I replied to others who replied to me so maybe my non-superstition is not for you.

Marie Therese H.
Marie Therese H.4 years ago

That poor boy in the red dress looked so helpless and vulnerable. What kind of animals would
amuse themselves at his expense.
Patick F. Your offending pigs who would never act that way.
Jermane H. Your biblical superstitions have nothing to do with this article.

Kathy Lentz
Kathlene Lentz4 years ago

Jermane, you obviously do not understand the nature of the "sin". Gay and lesbian men and women were born that way. It is not a choice they make, it is how they were born and therefore how they were meant to be. So many of God's creatures are homosexual that you can't continue to deny that it is in his plan. Some species even HAVE to practice homosexuality in order to survive. Get over yourself and get some education.

Beth S.
Beth S.4 years ago

I feel so bad for this poor guy. But I realize the truly amazing thing is that all the Afghanis did was to laugh at him. Normally, they'd shoot the guy! This guy was lucky.

Matthew T.
Past Member 4 years ago

The guise of religion is a place for narrow minds to gather .