The Zaru Effect

Dec 6, 2022

The Zaru Effect
The Zaru Effect. Courtesy of Paulette Vautour

The Zaru Effect is a sociological phenomenon that describes when law enforcement officers close their eyes to harms perpetuated by private actors against trans women. It also involves law enforcement’s arrest trans women for making complaints, and their failure to speak out against abuses that either causes the physical and sexual assault, or the incarceration and death of trans women.

The word ‘zaru’ is derived from the Three Exemplary Monkeys: Mizaru, who sees no evil, covers his eyes. Kikazaru, who hears no evil, covers his ears; and Iwazaru, who speaks no evil, covers his mouth. See no evil and speak no evil is integral to the discussion because law enforcement officers often turn a blind eye—and rarely speak up against the legal and moral wrongs perpetuated against trans women. Hear no evil is also vital, given law enforcement officers often minimize the complaints and harmful experiences of trans women.

The Zaru Effect further consists of gaslighting trans women. Gaslighting occurs when law enforcement officers deny, on the basis of another’s social identity, the trans woman’s testimony and the harms or wrongs done to her (Stark, 2019). It is also a form of testimonial injustice, wrongful manipulation, and emotional abuse (Stark, 2019). Gaslighting places a barrier between trans women and law enforcement officers, and justifies the human rights wrongs perpetuated against her by private and state actors (Carpenter & Marshall, 2017, p. 9).


Carpenter, L. F., & Marshall, R. B. (2017). Walking While Trans: Profiling of Transgender Women by Law Enforcement, and the Problem of Proof. Willam & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, 24(1), 5-38.

Stark, C. A. (2019). Gaslighting, Misogyny, and Psychological Oppression. The Monist, 221–235.

Quianna Canada

Quianna Canada

Quianna Canada is a B.A. Law student at the University of Arizona and a human rights defender. Her conversance with the American criminal justice system has made her passionate about justice and equality. Her focused researched on the ills of rankism, racism, and gender-based prejudice makes her an insightful expert at identifying maltreatment immanent in institutions, and how oppression effects ostracised persons in the world.

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