By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com January 24 2014 5:43 PM ET
Two Brazillian transgender women were detained in Dubai late last year, charged with the crime of "imitating the opposite sex." Authorities reportedly confiscated the women's passports, trapping the pair in Dubai until their court hearing, scheduled for March 23.
In December at a popular Dubai nightclub, Karen Mke, 38, and Kamilla Satto, 33, were approached by security guards, and asked for their identification. After the two presented the guards with passports that listed "male" as their sex, they were removed from the club.
In what they've since described as "the worst thing we did," the women called the police to file a complaint about their treatment. Once police arrived and became aware of the women's trans status, Satto and Mke were taken into custody.
The women say they were detained for two days without explanation as to why they were being held. At this point, the women were released, and informed that were in violation of a local law that prohibits "men from dressing as women," according to Brazilian news source ACritica.com.
The law prohibiting "indecent acts" includes a ban on "imitation of women by men." If found guilty, the two women could face fines, deportation, and up to 12 months in prison. The same law prohibits homosexual acts.
"We just want to go back to Brazil, and make it clear that we came to experience the culture, and not to attack Islamic laws and moral precepts," Mke told Acritica.com. "I never imagined this would happen to us. It's over. We cannot go out into the street, and we do not sleep well with this psychological pressure."
The pair say they have been staying with a Filipino family, though with nearly two months until their March court date, they stress that they are running out of financial and support resources, and that their situation becomes more difficult by the day.