May 29, 2016 at 10:34 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Pakistani transgender activist dies after delayed medical care

Alisha, Pakistan, gay news, Washington Blade

Alisha, a transgender woman who was shot in Pakistan, succumbed to her injuries on May 25, 2016. (Photo courtesy of the Neengar Society)

Pakistani LGBT rights advocates maintain that a transgender woman died from gunshot wounds after staff at a local hospital delayed treatment.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Alisha, a 23-year-old trans activist in the city of Peshawar, was shot seven times on May 22 during what it described as an “altercation.”

Muhammad Falak, president of the Neengar Society, a group that advocates for marginalized Pakistanis, told the Washington Blade late last week in an email that Alisha was shot six times by a man who raped her and “tried to kill her.”

Falak said Alisha was brought to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital after the shooting. He told the Blade that staff argued over whether to place Alisha with male or female patients.

“It was heartbreaking to see,” said Falak.

Farzana Jan, another activist, told the Los Angeles Times that men who were inside the hospital taunted her and other advocates who had gathered outside the emergency room. Falak told the Blade that Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, the acting governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province in which Peshawar is located, ordered hospital staff to place Alisha in a private room after he visited her.

“The relief was provided only after the governor intervened,” said Falak. “We are thankful to the governor. This was the first time that a government executive showed support.”

Falak told the Blade that Alisha did not immediately receive the necessary blood transfusions that could have saved her life because hospital staff were arguing over whether to place her in a male or female ward.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Alisha “underwent medical procedures” on May 23-24 to stop internal bleeding. A hospital spokesperson announced on May 25 that Alisha had died.

“Doctors are of the opinion that they tried to save her life for four days, but she was shot six times,” Falak told the Blade. “There was little chance for survival.”

Trans advocacy group: Hospital staff are ‘bastards’

Alisha worked with the Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a local advocacy group. Falak told the Blade that she “used to provide information and technical support to” the Neengar Society.

“The Trans Action board member and the district coordinator of the transgender Provincial Alliance Alisha died in LRH because she never received intensive medical attention,” wrote Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a message that it posted on its Facebook page after Alisha died.

The post contained a picture of Alisha in the hospital with the hashtag #EndTransPhobia. It also described personnel as “bastards” who should “kill all of us.”

Falak said that Alisha moved to Peshawar when she was a young child. He told the Blade that she left her family and began dancing and living with trans friends, which is commonplace in Pakistan and India.

Falak said that nobody from Alisha’s immediate family participated in her funeral. He also told the Blade that anti-trans violence is “very common” in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas.

U.S. urges officials to hold hospital staff ‘accountable’

Pakistani media on Sunday reported that police arrested Fazal Gujjar in connection with Alisha’s death.

“We are encouraged by signs that the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is undertaking an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Alisha’s death,” a State Department official told the Blade late last week. “We welcome reports, for instance, that there have been several arrests made in this case.”

“We encourage the government to hold those responsible fully accountable, including those medical personnel who may have failed to render timely and appropriate aid,” added the official.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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