PETALING JAYA: Two activists who advocate the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT), have expressed concern over the arrest warrant issued against cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat today.
Justice for Sisters founder Thilaga Sulathireh said there were legitimate fears that those from the transgender community could fall victim to violence while they are in detention.
She went on to cite a report by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia in 2019 on transgender people which revealed that there were at least 60 instances of violence while in police custody.
There were 54 instances of violence by prison wardens and 36 instances of violence from other inmates towards transgender people, including being forced to provide sexual favours.
Trans and intersex women are women, Thilaga said and as such they should be placed in facilities for women.
“It was important for the state to ensure dignity and safety of all persons in detention at all times.
“The current practice of placing trans women in male facilities, although segregated from other inmates needs to be changed,” she told FMT.
The shariah high court today issued a warrant of arrest for Nur Sajat after she failed to turn up for her case.
Nur Sajat is accused of dressing up as a woman at a religious event three years ago and allegedly bringing Islam into contempt.
Thilaga went on to say that those facing state prosecution faced a lot of stress, anxiety and hopelessness as they cannot imagine themselves getting justice or being treated with dignity.
In some cases, she said, we have seen people resorting to self-harm, completely running away to escape prosecution and experiencing severe mental health issues.
So going to the shariah court can be very stressful as they have to hide their gender identity, she said.
“Trans women are forced to appear as ‘men’, they are misgendered, and they are expected to sit in the designated area for men in the public gallery.
“The whole court process can exacerbate gender dysphoria for trans and non-binary people.”
Dorian Wilde, meanwhile, said in the event Nur Sajat is detained, she must be put in a separate holding area from the men.
This is to protect her from being a victim of abuse by detainees as well as the officers in the facility.
“Her privacy and dignity must also be protected. The authorities must protect her from being a spectacle during her detention.”
Dorian said in this case, there may be those who feel they had a moral or religious obligation to “correct” Nur Sajat.
And this could make the detainee even more vulnerable to violence or harassment by those who think they are doing the right thing.