Over the last four years, transgender women have been subjected to increased arrest, torture, and sexual assault by police in Kuwait, according to a new report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).The title of the 63-page report which documents abuses since 2008: They Hunt Us Down for Fun: Discrimination and Violence Against Transgender Women in Kuwait.
Nadim Houry, the Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director for HRW, told the Kuwait Times that authorities are using Article 198 of a 2007 Kuwait law, which arbitrarily criminalizes “imitating the opposite sex,” to justify abusing transgender people: “The law has been a huge enabling factor to arrest and abuse members of the transgender. It is like giving a green light to authorities, not only to police but even members of society, to arrest and torture transgender persons and use force and impunity against them. Just before amending the law, we did not see such a huge number of abuses against transgender."
“No one – regardless of his or her gender identity – deserves to be arrested on the basis of a vague, arbitrary law and then abused and tortured by police,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Kuwaiti government has a duty to protect all of its residents, including groups who face popular disapproval, from brutal police behavior and the application of an unfair law.”
The HRW report recommends authorities investigate these internal instances of sex assault, torture, and wrongful arrest, and also urges repeal of the "wrongful law."