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.
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.
Photo from FotoRita via flickr