Kami Sid case: No to impunity, transphobia and homophobia

Prominent transgender rights activist and artist Kami Sid and her partner Sid Kami allegedly raped a minor transgirl who went by the name Sana in 2014. The allegations came months after the victim was killed by her ‘lover’ and there are conflicting reports about investigation into the murder.

The alleged rape story and how it happened and when it happened was talk on twitter. Minahil Balouch, a freelance blogger and activist, wrote a twitter thread sharing screenshots of conversation with Kami Sid.

Kami Sid has reportedly made several threats to silent those who spoke against her alleged involvement in the case.

Talking to Voice of Internet, Minahil Balouch who went public with alleged threats from Kami said: “Kami’s threats to me started a larger conversation. Kami and I were casual friends and we’ve met couple of times and were in touch on social media. I immediately distanced myself from her when I got to know about the accusations. I hope justice is served to the victim who is no more in the world and may she rest in peace.”

Voice of Internet reached out to Kami for comment but she hasn’t gotten back to us by the time of publishing this. She is quoted by the press of denying the accusations and claiming she is being targeted because of her prominence.

There’s a group of people who have come forward in support of Kami including the filmmaker Saadt Munr, who claimed Kami was being cyber-bullied because of her fame. Munr said Kami starred in one of his films and she continues to work with him even after these allegations. When asked if he’s dismissing any chance that allegations against Kami are true, he said he’s not claiming that Kami is innocent but that those leading the movement against her are doing so in spite.

“If Kami did this then why aren’t they going to the police?” He asked “Why must they resolve to social media trolling to bring someone down?”

This case is more complicated than it seems because of number of reasons:

a) the victim passed away this year

b) the accused is a member and an inspirational leading figure of an oppressed and marginalised transgender community

c) the country has homophobic laws and the police can use those to incriminate the witnesses

d) regardless of the outcome, the whole thing has the potential to contribute to the already rising homophobia and transphobia in the country

That said, the accused of a crime as heinous as child rape cannot be given impunity even if they belong to a marginalised community and therefore we’re calling for a legal enquiry into the matter. We also urge the Human Rights Ministry of the country and non-profits organisations working to strengthen the human rights situation in the country to oversee the proceedings.

Prominent journalist and Member Executive Council of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Marvi Sirmed agreed to the need for independent enquiry overseen by the Human Rights Ministry and independent human rights non-profit organisations of Pakistan.

She said she doesn’t have a lot of information about the case but there needs to be an investigation and First Information Report (FIR) of the crime, adding that the woman who’s making the accusation needs to register her complaint to the appropriate forum such as the Ombudswoman’s office or the police.

Marvi said she’s aware that the victim is dead but the FIR can be filed by a body like PCSW or any women’s group from the city where the crime happened.

As for Women Action Forum, its member, lawyer and BoloBhi advocacy group’s researcher Shumaila H Shahani also spoke against Kami’s intimidation tactics to silence those trying to bring the case to surface. WAF, however, issued a statement saying that their mandate does not include investigation and to indict or exonerate someone.

Voice of Internet has learnt that the victim spoke to Muhammad Moiz – activist and artist – and Women Action Forum (WAF) Karachi and recounted the horrors to them. This means that Moiz and WAF’s designated people who heard the victim will now be treated as witnesses. It goes without saying that the due process has to be followed which means the accused shall also have the right to present their witnesses and cross-examine Moiz and other witnesses.

Speaking to Voice of Internet, Moiz said he’s prepared to testify before the court and that he wants to see justice delivered to the victim. He said that Kami, her partner Sid and Qasim Iqbal, executive director of a non-profit organisation that provides medical and sexual health assistance to sexual and gender minorities, are involved in a cover-up. This has been denied by Qasim.

Moiz said he worked for Qasim’s organisation at the time with which Kami was also involved. He said when the allegations surfaced, he was sent to Karachi as part of the organisation’s investigation into the matter. Moiz went on to say that after his investigation, he made some recommendations which he said were not followed.

“I recommended that this is more of a criminal matter,” he said. “along with the recommendation that she should be removed from her position and should undergo therapy”

Moiz alleged that Qasim then had another enquiry among the Khawaja Sira community elders to make the whole thing go away.

Voice of Internet also reached out to Qasim Iqbal for comment. He not only denied the accusation that his organisation tried to cover it up but also denied that Moiz was sent as part of his organisation’s investigation into the crime. He said Kami was suspended during the investigation and their Karachi chapter’s staff was asked to lead the enquiry. He said the investigation did not find any evidence against Kami and therefore Kami was reinstated. He said his organisation’s enquiry was based on 2 witnesses and an audio recording of an alleged confession of the victim. He claimed the victim and her guru came up with the accusations for money.

When asked if they will be able to present these reports and audio recording in the court as evidence, Qasim said that his organisation has a strict invisibility policy and therefore will not be able to present them in the court. But, he said, he’s prepared to testify to all of this in a court of law and can present Moiz’s employment contract as evidence that Moiz was not an employee of the organisation at the time and that his organisation never assigned Moiz to investigate this.

Moiz and Minahil, however, are willing to testify in a court of law.

Editors Note: Voice of Internet urges an independent enquiry into the matter. What’s startling is that the child who went to multiple forums to seek help was left on her own and her safety was not ensured. Her guru whose whereabouts are currently unknown, must also be questioned. The country already failed a transgender child — kicked out of her house, faced abuse and then murdered. Sana deserves justice. Every effort must be made to bring her abusers and murderer to justice.

The due process must be followed. While Kami and her partner have the right to cross-examine and confront the accusers, they must not use intimidation tactics against the witnesses. They must also not use the outing tactics, the sexual orientation and gender identity of those coming forward against them.

We also urge the public not to paint an already marginalised transgender community with the same brush and don’t use this case as an excuse to further your homophobia and transphobia. An individual’s act must be seen as such and not as an act by the whole community.

The state must make efforts to ensure sexual and gender minorities are not demonised and persecuted so that this doesn’t provide a cover to predators thinking that no one will go to the police against them because of the country’s homophobic laws.

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