LGBT activists are planning to take legal action against Mandalay’s police force following reports that the department’s officers sexually humiliated and physically assaulted a group of transgender women last week.
According to Equality Myanmar’s director Aung Myo Min, his group is in the process of seeking legal advice and will file an official complaint against Mandalay’s police station-3 if they find ample evidence to present.
“We learnt the police sexually harassed them by pulling off their wigs and taking topless photos of them and also verbally abused them and forced them to do a ‘catwalk’ – this is completely inappropriate and a human rights violation,” said Aung Myo Min.
“We are looking to consult with legal experts to determine whether the police had acted above the law and if that is the case [we will] file a report to the National Human Rights Commission as well as the regional government.”
In a report published on the Irrawaddy’s English language website last week, the victims of the assault said police arrested the group of twelve during a crackdown on an area frequented by sex workers in Mandalay.
While in detention, the police reportedly sexually and physically abused the inmates, while shouting profanities.
“The police forcibly pulled off our clothes, kicked us and beat us. Our breasts were squeezed, scratched and beaten with police batons,” said one of the victims, Myat Noe, during an interview with the Irrawaddy.
“And they forced us to do frog jumps, without clothes, and shout that we are not women but men. I’ve never experienced terror like this.”
According to an official at the Mandalay police station-3 who spoke with DVB, police arrested the transgender women on suspicion of plotting crimes because they were found “in disguise as women” near Mandalay’s famed moat.
“The Achauks [sexual slur for transgender women] disguising as Achauks by the moat, who were seemingly ready to commit a crime, were reported by residents in the area,” said the official who spoke on the condition of anynomity.
“We pressed charges on five of them for masquerading on 7 and 8 of July.”
The official added that police would continue arresting members of the group if authorities suspected that they were participating in “criminal activities”.
Under section 377 of Burma’s penal code, citizens are liable to fines and up to 10 years imprisonment if they are caught participating in “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.