Few clues are forthcoming in the possible murder of 30-year-old Pakistani trans woman Almaroof Bijli, whose body was discovered mutilated and burned near a Gungal busstop May 5. Her death was followed three days later by the possibly hate-motivated drive-by shooting of three trans women in Rawalpindi, reports Pakistani news site Dawn.
While Islamabad police are hesitant to declare Bijli's death a murder, the "mysterious circumstances" she was found in suggest to her loved ones that she was, indeed, killed, notes Pakistan's Express Tribune. She had reportedly been missing for 10 days before her body was discovered, and authorities confirmed that Bijli's remains suggested she had died 10 days prior.
A group of local trans people gathered to demand that the case be "registered" as a murder and that police begin attempting to arrest a perpetrator, but authorities told the Tribune that only Bijli's legal heirs can file a "First Information Report," Pakistan's official documentation of any recognized offense. None of Bijli's biological family initially came forward to claim her body, and police could not perform a post-mortem exam to determine cause of death without their permission. However, the Tribune notes that Bijli's brother traveled to Islamabad to collect his sister's remains Friday.
Though convinced that Bijli was murdered, her trans friends are reluctant to come forward and name possible suspects. The motive behind her possible murder remains as unclear as that of three trans women who were gunned down on a Rawalpindi street corner May 8.
Nine people were injured when two motorcycle riders opened fire on a busy street in the Chamanzar Colony neighborhood, according to Dawn. The riders appeared to be aiming at a group of seven people that included at least five trans women. Two of the women, identified as Shah Zaib and Billi, died on the scene. A third trans woman, Saima Shahzadi, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and died the next morning. Two other trans women sustained non-fatal injuries.
Police have created sketches of the suspected killers, and are trying to determine whether the murders were linked to robberies that some of the trans women had allegedly committed. Members of the local trans community suggested alternate motives.
"The attackers could be those who did not like the presence of transgenders in the locality," Almas Boby, president of the Shemale Foundation Pakistan, told Dawn, adding that many trans women were seen in the same area during the assault. "The motive behind the triple murder is not clear, but it could be religious extremism or robbery cases allegedly committed by some [trans women]."
Fatal violence against trans women is considered an "epidemic" by trans advocates, who estimate that a trans woman or gender-nonconforming person is killed about every two days worldwide. On Friday, Transgender Europe released a report finding that more than 1,700 trans people have been murdered worldwide between 2008 and 2014, with many others likely unreported or misgendered in death. Nine trans women have been killed in the U.S. this year alone.