Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Transgender groom and bride arrested in Pakistan

May 21, 2007, 1:09AM

Transgender groom and bride arrested in PakistanCouple is accused of lying to a court about husband's gender

Associated Press

LAHORE, PAKISTAN — Police on Sunday arrested a couple who are accused of lying to a Pakistani court about the gender of the husband, who was born female and had sex reassignment surgery 16 years ago.
The bride's father wants the marriage annulled on the grounds that it is against Islam, but the couple say they married to protect the bride from being sold into marriage to pay off her uncle's gambling debts.
The husband, Shumail Raj, 31, initially went to court seeking protection from harassment by their relatives, but the Lahore High Court earlier this month ordered the arrests of Raj and his wife, Shahzina Tariq, 26, for lying to the court.
Raj told the court he is male but a court-appointed panel of doctors ruled he is a woman.
He said his breasts and uterus were surgically removed at age 15 after his voice changed and he began to grow facial hair. But the doctors say he has a vagina that was surgically closed and no penis.
After the couple's arrest on Sunday, Raj told The Associated Press that the surgery made him a man and he married Tariq to save her from the arranged marriage.
"She told me that one of her uncles wants to sell her to pay off a debt," Raj said by telephone from a police station in their hometown of Faisalabad.
"I had told Shahzina that I have had two operations and I am not a male. But she said that it was not a problem for her," Raj said. He referred to himself as both male and not male during the interview.
"I knew that Shumail was not a male, ... but I begged her for protection," Tariq said, referring to her husband as a woman throughout an interview.
Aslam Tareen, a senior police officer, said authorities will wait for orders from the court before investigating further, including the claim that Tariq's uncle wanted to sell her into marriage.
The couple are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

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