What is the Beela Crisis and how are Khwajasiras in Pakistan affected by it?

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Have you ever heard about the term Beela? If not this 10 minute read is definitely for you.

Dr. Mehrub Moiz Awan has multiple personas: a brash, outspoken woman behind Snapchat filters called Shumaila Bhatti, ruminating on family, Rishta Aunties, lip fillers, wedding seasons, and gossip.

Awan is also a member of the Khwaja Sira community and an activist. However, she does not use the word transgender due to its origins in other countries and languages. This, according to Awan, is an anti-colonial, anti-imperial, indigenous identity, not one framed by western terminology.

In Persian, ‘Sira’ means resting place and ‘Khawaja’ means master; hence, the Khawaja Sira is a caretaker of the home. The phrase also serves as a metaphorical safe haven for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations, free of the ‘white labels’ of (LG)BTQI, which Awan claims make indigenous people sound “foreign.”

Khawaja Sira encompasses people born with male bodies but carrying the spirit of a woman, it encompasses cross dressers, the sexually curious, non-binary people – people born with ambiguous genitalia or modified genitalia (like the eunuchs); Khawaja Sira is a way of being, in spirit, in thought and has little to do with the corporeal form.

Having said that, Khuwajasiras was one of Awan’s primary focus areas as an activist during the Beela crisis.

So, what is Beela Crisis all about?

Beela refers to persons who commit acts of violence against Khwaja-Siras and other trans-feminine bodies for rejecting their forceful sexual activity. According to Dr. Moiz, Beelas are “an organized gang of criminals that plot, hunt, and assault Khwaja-Siras, trans-feminine persons, and young boys.”

When the British came to the subcontinent and outlawed the Khwaja-Sira tradition and sought to exterminate the group, they brought this violence with them.

So the Khwaja-Sira community has been marginalized and hated, which is often expressed in discriminatory attitudes and the erasure of their culture and humanity as well as violence.

To show their support for the Khuwajasira community, Dr. Mehrub has publicly called on the government to hold the perpetrators responsible and put in place policies to guarantee that transgender individuals are treated equally as citizens of the nation.

For more details, watch!!

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Nismah Naveed Bhatti
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