Source AP ©

Pakistani transsexual arrested for wedding woman against Islam

Police arrested a wife and her husband - who was born a woman and underwent sex reassignment surgery 16 years ago - and accused them of lying about the husband's gender to a court in eastern Pakistan.

The case pits the bride's father, who wants to annul his daughter's wedding on the grounds that it is against Islam for two women to marry, against the couple, who said they married to protect the bride from being sold into marriage to pay off her uncle's gambling debts.

The husband, Shumail Raj, 31, first brought the case to court, appealing for protection from harassment by their relatives. But earlier this month the Lahore High Court ordered the arrest 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 ruled that Raj is a woman, whose breasts and uterus were removed in sex-change surgery.

Raj told the court-appointed doctors that he underwent gender reassignment surgery when he was 15 after he noticed changes in his voice and began to grow facial hair. The court-appointed medical panel found Raj had no penis, and a vagina that was surgically closed.

After the couple's arrest on Sunday, Raj insisted the sex-change operation made him a man, and he married Tariq to save her from the arranged marriage.

"I decided to help her out when she came to me with the problem. She told me that one of her uncles wants to sell her to pay off a debt," Raj told The Associated Press by telephone from a police station in Faisalabad, the pair's hometown.

"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. She said she just needs protection," Raj said. He refered to himself both as male and not male during the interview.

Tariq said she was aware of Raj's surgery, and they married for her protection.

"I knew that Shumail was not a male. She had some problem due to the operations, but I begged her for protection," she said, referring to her husband as a woman throughout the interview.

"We had planned to leave Faisalabad to settle elsewhere permanently," Tariq said by phone.

Aslam Tareen, a senior police officer, said that police will wait for orders from the court, where Raj and Tariq will appear on Tuesday, before further investigating the case, including the claim that Tariq's uncle wanted to sell her to pay off his debt.

The couple have not yet been charged with any wrongdoing, Tareen said.

After their arrest at a relative's home in Lahore, Raj and Tariq were moved to Faisalabad, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the west, Tareen said.

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