A 29-year-old transgender woman was found dead early Saturday morning, at around 4:30 am, in Hetauda.

Her body was discovered near the Kyampadanda road in Hetauda, naked and beaten to death.

Ajita Bhujel was 22 years old when she decided to transition from male to female. Though her family was not comfortable with the idea at first, they gradually came to accept her identity as a woman.

Bhujel used to work as a rights activist at the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s oldest LGBTIQ rights organization with branches across the country.

Superintendent Sushil Singh Rathour, chief of the Makwanpur District Police Office said, “We are interrogating people and trying to find her phone and her call details.”

Bhujel’s autopsy report showed that she had been raped before being struck on the head with a blunt object and then strangled to death by a wire.

Police are uncertain about the motive behind the murder, but queer rights activists are concerned about the motive being a possible hate crime.

Transgender men and women continue to face stigma and prejudice from society, which denies them access to traditional means of employment.

With few options, they often turn to sex work, which can be dangerous. In March last year, Junu Gurung, a transgender sex worker, was beaten to death.

But as prostitution is illegal in Nepal, they have no legal means of redress when they are mistreated or assaulted by customers. Often, they are doubly victimized by the police.