Pakistan: Transgender news anchor survives gun attack

Marvia Malik, Pakistan’s first transgender news anchor for Kohenoor TV, has survived an ambush by two gunmen on return to her Lahore home and previously receiving death threats from unknown individuals. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its Pakistan affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), condemn the attack on Marvia Malik and urge the Pakistani government to expedite investigations into the incident to protect working journalists.

Pakistan's first transgender news anchor, Marvia Malik. Credit: Twitter

On February 25, a case was registered against unknown assailants for their attack on Marvia Malik, Pakistan's first transgender news anchor. According to a First Information Report launched by the anchor, she was fired upon by two suspects on return to her home from a nearby pharmacy. Malik has since left Lahore to ensure her safety, returning recently for a surgery.  

According to her police statement, the television presenter said that she had received threatening phone calls and texts from unknown numbers for her advocacy for the transgender community. She also asserted that her activism was a “major factor” in the attempted killing,  

Since 2013, journalists in Pakistan have faced increasing threats, violence and legal repression, with investigations often failing to identify perpetrators. In 2022, 80% of IFJ-documented deaths in Pakistan resulted from gun violence.  

In 2018, Malik became Pakistan’s first transgender news anchor at the age of 21, after funding her way through journalism school by working as a make-up artist in the fashion sector. She previously made history by being the first transgender model to walk the runway at the Pakistan Fashion Design Council's annual fashion show.  

The PFUJ said: “The PFUJ strongly condemns the armed assault on Marvia Malik and requests the IG Punjab Police arrest and imprison the perpetrators. Violence in this manner is unacceptable, and the offenders should be apprehended and jailed.”  

The IFJ said: “Pakistan's government must take appropriate measures to ensure media workers' safety and security, as required by law. Threats of assault, violence and death limit the capacity for journalists to operate without fear. The IFJ condemns the threats and attack against Marvia Malik and urges Pakistani authorities to investigate the incident swiftly and transparently.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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