Monica hands me her phone to show me a selfie that she keeps as proof of a former life that ended abruptly in January. Her hair is wavy, swept to the side and dyed a sort of strawberry blonde. She has tight fitting black singlet and she’s tastefully made up. Looking confident, if not sassy, her appearance in the photo is in sharp contrast to the reverse ball cap and moustache she awkwardly sports now. In late January, Monica, was a one of 11 transgendered women, whom police rounded up in a series of raids on salons amid a crackdown on local transgendered women, or waria as they are known here. Monica says she was beaten and her head shaved in front of onlookers. Police then took the captives to prison, where they were treated to a sort of reverse finishing school of push ups, shouting and marches that officers reckoned would man them up.
April 6 / The News Lens