On May 8, 2016 76 Crimes reported: End arbitrary arrests and repeal laws that criminalize transgender persons
Justice for Sisters is extremely concerned and appalled by the arrests of 12 trans women, including an Indonesian trans woman in a police raid in Penang on 2 March 2016. The 12 are being investigated under various charges, including gang robbery, violation of social pass, and Section 28 of the Penang Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1996, which criminalizes male person posing as a woman.
Five women investigated for robbery, have been remanded for 6 days until 8 March 2016. No further information is available at the moment, including their cells, and the exact sections that they are being investigated for.
End the mistreatment of trans detainees
In a positive move in November 2015, Penang State EXCO for Youth and Sports; Women, Family and Community Development, and Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam YB [meaning “The Honorable”] Chong Eng recommended separate cells for transgender persons to protect their safety. Based on her correspondence with the Penang Police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi in August 2015, she noted that there is currently no guideline for detainees who are transgender, however placed in separate cells based on sensitivity and discretion of the police.
We echo YB Chong Eng’s recommendation, and urge the Penang Police Department to ensure that the detainees are being treated humanely.We further call Members of Parliament and State Assemblypersons to support the recommendations, as all detainees and prisoners have the right to humane treatment, including being treated as per self-determined gender identity. There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence of the multiple forms of violence experienced by trans women in detention, including disregard of gender identity (being treated as a cisgender man), physical and sexual violence, and lack of access to trans specific healthcare needs, which increases anxiety and stress due to changes in appearance and body.
Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. Some of the trans women were arrested in their hotel rooms, while they were asleep. Six trans women, who are being investigated under ‘Section 28 Male person posing a woman’, which criminalizes any male person who wears women’s attire or poses as a woman in a public place for immoral purposes, were released on 3 March 2015 by the Penang religious department.