Kuwaiti trans woman posts distressing video saying police raped and beat her
A brave trans woman in Kuwait posted a video explaining how police have raped and assaulted her as she turned herself into a police station.
Content warning: The following article contains graphic descriptions of suicide, assault and rape.
The authorities had summoned Maha al-Mutairi, 39, to attend the police station on the charge of ‘imitating a woman’.
It’s the fourth time she has faced this charge in a year.
But this time she fought back. On her way to the police station she filmed a video. In it, she explained how police had raped her and beat her senseless when in a male prison for seven months in 2019 for ‘imitating the opposite sex’.
‘I get raped in prison by officers’
In the video al-Mutairi said (translated):
‘When you jail me because I’m a woman and I get raped in prison by officers, what do you call that?
‘When you put me in male prisons and I sleep in my cell and policemen enter my cell to touch me, to sexually assault me, what do you call that?
‘Why do you allow young officers on the streets to assault me? I’m not that young for a child to humiliate me and hit me in public.’
Moreover, she also recalled how one of her friends died by suicide:
‘My [trans female] friend left jail. After she left jail and arrived at her apartment, she threw herself from the eighth floor.
‘She killed herself because she’s a woman who can’t live in Kuwait. And everyone conceals her suicide from the public. My friend died because of all of you.’
Meanwhile al-Mutairi said she was also considering suicide:
‘I will find a way to set myself on fire. I won’t be quiet. I’ll be the first transgender to burn myself in Kuwait.’
The obviously distressed al-Mutairi even took her own pillow and food to the police station, fearing the ‘ice cold’ cell she expected to be jailed in.
But despite her desperation, she remained brave.
She said: ‘It was god who made me a woman.
‘I’m a Kuwaiti citizen and it’s my right to live.
‘I’m the first transgender in Kuwait to publicly announce that she is a woman. And I’m not afraid of anyone. Either I live with my head held high, with protection, declaring I have gender dysphoria, or I just turn myself in. I will no longer be afraid of cops or anyone.’
Support from around the world
Al-Mutairi’s lawyer told Human Rights Watch that she endured three days in detention.
During this time, police spat at her, verbally abused her and assaulted her, taking turns to touch her breasts.
The lawyer, Shaikha Salmeen, also said the officers tried to break her spirit. They told her ‘people all over Kuwait are rallying against you’ because of her video.
However, the reality was very different.
Hundreds of activists protested against al-Mutairi being jailed and demanded her release. Eventually the police released her without charge.
Now campaigners are hoping it has raised Kuwaiti people’s attention to the country’s law against ‘imitating the opposite sex’.
Kuwait amended Article 198 of the penal code in 2008 to create the offense.
Since then, it’s given the authorities license to abuse trans women in particular.
Trans women have reported police stripping them and parading them around police stations, having to dance for officers, sexual humiliation, physical abuse and torture.
Alongside Article 198, Kuwait also persecuted the LGBT+ community with Article 193 of the penal code. That punishes consensual gay male sex with seven years in prison.
Meanwhile LGBT+ people enjoy no rights or protections. And the authorities regularly abuse their power to persecute innocent people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Help is out there
LGBT+ people are more likely to struggle with poor mental health. But there is help if you just reach out. You can find a list of LGBT+ resources and helplines all around the world here. Please note, some of the helplines may have different operating hours during the pandemic.
Published on GayStarNews Read the original article
Author: Tris Reid-Smith