An open letter to Alisha

Writing this letter to you was hard as I did not know from where to start; the beginning of your life and that of this letter are quite similar in this regard. I know it was not your fault, it has never been, but I regret to inform you that you have no right to live. Yes Alisha! YOU have NO right to live. This little err that occurred in the fusion of cells during fertilization is the discriminant of your fate from the others’. In a society where people die for sons, how could YOU be accepted – the one who is both? In a society where the birth of a girl is storied as an incident of infamy and disgrace to the family, how could YOU be accepted – the one who belongs to the third gender?

Alisha, do you remember the days of your puerility? You watched other kids, wearing uniforms of different colours, marching towards their respective schools… while you just watched them go. You watched a bunch of boys dancing in the rain, dabbling in puddles, and singing songs pertinent to the occasion… and when you joined them, it was YOU who became the center of the crowd; it was YOU who was being watched. You watched girls helping their mothers in washing dishes, doing laundry and cooking food for their families… and when YOU stepped into the kitchen with the intention of helping them in their chores, they dispelled and, worse, kicked YOU out.

Alisha, it is amazing how a student competes for marks and eventually gets selected for specialised training to becoming either a doctor, or an engineer, or any other notable profession. On average, a typical qualification study requires the investment of four precious years of a student’s life, in some cases even longer. But the idea that made me use the word “amazing” in the first line of this paragraph is the assignment of YOUR profession to you without the requirement of any qualification. How that crowd fetched entertainment from you while you were dancing in the rain, remember? Was it in your genes from the very start? Or were you just acting like other ‘normal’ human beings but could only be looked at as a source of fun and divertissement?

For the sentimental fractions of this society, YOU were isolated from the whole population and made to live with other epicenes. For me, I am happy that you found the company of those who were very much able to understand YOUR problems. Yes! YOUR problems! How easily have we, the normal humans, forgone the thought of YOU facing any ill or trouble?

Alisha, I used to debate on the commodification of women in our society, that how a woman could be bought or sold? But when I heard about your ‘customer’ giving you those wounds, all my confusions got settled. This society, of which you were unfortunately a part, allots certain jobs to a faction, which is then used as a ‘good’ or ‘service’ and whose value lies in the paper currency with which he/she gets exchanged. Yes Alisha! YOU have no right to live for your profession was to entertain people. How could YOU be given treatment on your deathbed when YOUR only job is to beguile your audience? How could YOUR hand be held with sympathy or care when the sound of your ‘clapping’ hands is the only identity YOU have? How did you even expect the doctor to give you medicines when YOU can only be given money in accordance with your ‘rate’?

I hope this letter finds you in peace… for that world is surely a better place than this one.

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  1. Almas Sabeeh says

    Excellent piece

  2. Mohsin says

    pathetic article, showing the negative mind of the writer. This is how we defame our own country by writing such non-researched articles.

    1. Aminah Qureshi says

      Respected Sir Mohsin
      It has nothing to do with defaming our ‘beloved’ country… these are facts which I, being a woman, and Alisha, being a transgender face(d). Kindly show us the other side of the story by giving us facts and figures on which you are basing your opinion. After all, rejecting is easier than accepting. If I have a flaw then I must realise it in order to correct it and this IS a fact. Alisha’s torturous death IS a fact. The commodification of women IS a fact. Sexual harassment IS a fact. If you think this is a fallacy then kindly ask a lady or a transgender or a young boy who might n probably have suffered from any form of harassment. Thank you for giving this article a read and posting your valuable opinion.

      1. Mohsin says

        Respected Aminah,

        In Australia the reported rape rate per 100,000 people is relatively very high. This stands in contrast to reported rape rate of 1.2 per 100,000 in Japan, 1.8 per 100,000 in India, 4.6 rapes per 100,000 in Bahrain, 12.3 per 100,000 in Mexico, 24.1 per 100,000 in United Kingdom, 28.6 per 100,000 in United States, 66.5 per 100,000 in Sweden, and world’s highest rate of 114.9 rapes per 100,000 in South Africa.
        Our beloved Pakistan doesn’t fall anywhere in this category. Have you ever heard or read any article from a Swedish or British or American spreading the so called facts about their country?

        Your article gives the same logic as we experience nowadays about Muslims and Islam. If some terrorism is done by a Muslim, they call it as Islamic Terrorism. If its done by a non-Muslim, then they call it an individual act.

        So my humble advice for you is, don’t blame the entire Pakistani Society, please do not defame your own country. Please bring the positive side of Pakistan by writing Positive articles about Pakistani People who give greatest charity to the poor people of this world etc.

        Criticizing the society is an easy task compared to criticizing your own faults/failures.


        1. Aminah says

          Respected Sir Mohsin
          Just because my country fortunately does not happen to fall in the list of top 10 countries with highest rape statistics does not change the de facto realities which women like me and the third gender faces in this society. The Kasur and Swat child abuse scandals, the rape of minors in metropolitan cities of Pakistan, and the rape rate of 28.8 per 100,000 population and a total number of 3478 women/girls/minors getting raped in 2010 might not be big enough to make Pakistan one of the top 10 countries but these figures are indeed shameful. If you are interested in reading articles about the positive side of Pakistan kindly refer to any other article… This article is not about defaming the country. This article is about telling the people what they are. People accuse Manto of writing stories full of vulgarity… little do we know that those stories are realities. Come in my shoes and walk a mile… you will get to know about the difficulties a woman faces in this society.

          1. Mohsin says

            I will conclude as Winston S. Churchill said,
            “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

    2. Shiraz says

      Typical response of a guy from a patriarchal society. Folks that cannot compete with the world in innovation or intellect, but can legalize women-beating. Oh how mardaana, indeed!

  3. Asim says

    Totally agreed with the author.its not negativity but to show the dark side of our society, the conservative mindset and extremism. I d9nt know what pakistans future going to be.killing somone on base of gender is not right and pakistan should come up with tough laws to control these kinda incidents.he or she was a innocent human being.Religious fanatics , lack of education and our own society is responsible for these kinda barbaric acts.ANd sure Aminah this letter of you is a piece to save.I will be readin this out to few of my university fellas ……..keep up the good work and raising your voice.

  4. Gulraiz Khan says

    Excellent piece of article with all the facts brought to the light in the best of manner. Request to the author not to be discouraged from the ignorant good for nothing small/close minded and senseless people like you just faced not to get shadowed by them. They are habitual since childhood not to see the brighter side of anything they come across. They are taught from childhood how to be pain in the a$$. You have pointed out the bitter reality and true face of the shallow minded people UNFORTUNATELY we have in our beautiful country Pakistan. This kind of harsh and ignorant mentality have not developed overnight but took a while to create deep roots in the country. As the corruption grew the people of the country started to have their mind and free will spirits polluted with it and today here we stand where we have become worse than animals. Animals have more rights in the countries as off today in the world than an individual living in our country. Thanks to the blessings of the corrupt politicians, mullahs (so-called) and even judiciary which have closed its eyes.

  5. Ahmed Zeeshan says

    Heart touching and sadly a rampant phenomenon in our society. Those who deny that such discrimination is present among us, are blind themselves.

  6. XYZ says

    Nice sentiments but don’t mix facts to support your arguments, what happened is not justified but he was also to an other extreme, Two wrongs does’t make one Right

    1. Aminah Qureshi says

      Respected Sir XYZ
      Irrespective of whatever she was or whatever she did… NO ONE has ANY right to shoot her… let it be once or eight times… And no one can and should be denied the right to avail health facilities… I think this is a simple yet a difficult-to-perceive principle of humanity.

  7. Nadeem Ahmad says

    Excellent reflection of an overlooked human tragedy of our society. The worst was the denial/inordinate delay of provision of appropriate medical care. At least the people responsible for this criminal neglect should be brought to task; mourning alone would carry little value

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