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What it’s like being a transgender refugee sex worker in Pakistan

It’s a dark underworld rarely brought to light in discussions of human rights and refugees. But there is a growing pool of refugees in Pakistan – who have fled oppression in neighboring Afghanistan and Bangladesh – who identify as transgender, and have nowhere to go but hide by day and take up sex work by night. “My father was a brutal person, who often beat me if I was ever found wearing girly stuff,” recalled Afsus Afghani, 40. “I think he was just scared of the Taliban because he knew they would kill me if they found me.” Afghani fled Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and has spent much of her life in Peshawar, Pakistan, where she identifies as female and has found little life beyond being a sex worker. There ar ...