On Nov 16, 2016 Channel NewsAsia reported: When police in Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon arrested Chew Su Khin, a young transgender woman, for the third time in a year, they removed her hair extensions and set them on fire, stripped her naked and took pictures for their amusement.
“They made me remove all my clothes and perform sexual acts with other prisoners while they filmed it on their phones with the threat of more violence,” the slight 20-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Yangon’s Bahan township.
She had to pay a fine of 35,000 kyat (US$27) to be released the next day.
Before that, Chew Su Khin was detained under the so-called “shadow law”, which allows police to arrest after sunset anyone they believe is acting suspiciously.
She was kept in a male jail cell where she was raped by fellow prisoners as guards looked on.
Campaigners say lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people routinely face abuse, violence, intimidation and harassment from police officers who extort money and sexual favours from them in a country where homosexuality is banned.
The police deny harassing LGBT people. But activists say police officers use Article 377 of the Penal Code, a relic of British colonial law, which forbids “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” to persecute LGBT people.
The law, which carries a 10 year prison sentence for convicted offenders, is however rarely enforced.
When Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), swept to power after a landslide election win last November, pledging to fight for human rights and democratic change, many activists hoped the victory would enable LGBT people to come out of the shadows.
But a year on, many have been disappointed by a lack of progress in the socially conservative Southeast Asian country.