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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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Indonesian transgender people fight for rights after attacks

  • Gisela Swaragita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sat, November 24, 2018 | 10:17 am
Indonesian transgender people fight for rights after attacks The other victim, who wore a short wig and appeared more masculine, was stripped naked, hit on the chest and had the wig removed by force, while the men shouted, “You are a man, right? And your friend is a banci [transvestite]? Don’t you know that it’s a sin [to be waria].” (Shutterstock/File)

A human right activist, who are helping her waria (transgender woman) friends find justice, visited the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and National Commission on Human Rights on Friday after her friends were attacked on Monday night.

The activist, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said finding support to fight discrimination was “imperative because the persecution of waria is on the increase”.

She said the election year had led to an increase in attacks on waria -- who form part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community -- especially by religious groups. “We want there to be no more attacks on waria. As Indonesian nationals, we all have the same rights.” 

‘Beaten and stripped off their clothes’

Dozens of men attacked the two waria in Bekasi, West Java, on Monday night.

The activist said one of them had arrived at the scene at around midnight for a gathering with friends, while the other victim had already been waiting there.

“Not long after that, around 50 to 60 men in white clothes on motorcycles chased the two waria to a place where fellow waria had gathered,” she said in a written statement on Wednesday.

She added that the men had parked their motorcycles and continued the chase on foot, catching the victims in front of a fast food outlet.

The men then forced one of the waria, who looked more feminine, to strip but then told her to put her clothes back on after seeing her breasts. They assaulted her with a metal rod and cut off her long hair.

The other victim, who wore a short wig and appeared more masculine, was stripped naked, hit on the chest and had the wig removed by force, while the men shouted, “You are a man, right? And your friend is a banci [transvestite]? Don’t you know that it’s a sin [to be waria].”

The victims cried and called for mercy, saying, “Ya Allah”, but the men said, “There is no Allah for you. No need to mention Allah. You don’t deserve to have been born,” the activist said, adding that the men, who assaulted the victims, were still young, with those aged 14 to 20 years continuing the attack even though the older ones, around 25 years of age, had told them to stop.

After the attack, several onlookers, including restaurant employees, assisted the victims and helped them to get dressed. They also advised them to report the incident to the police, but the victims were reluctant to do so.

“Fortunately, they still had their mobile phones and money to order a taxi home,” she said. “They have bruises around the eyes and chest as well as cuts on their limbs.”

Past attacks

Earlier this week, seven waria in East Jakarta were told to leave their boarding house by some of their neighbors. They have lived there for five to 10 years and this is the first time that something like this has happened to them. 

The Bekasi activist said the attack against her friends was not the only attack against waria in the area. She said several men had also harassed and pulled another friend’s hair. “But she chose not to go to the police because she was too scared.”

‘What report?’

However, after Monday’s incident, she was determined to do something to stop such attacks. 

The victims reported the attack to the Bekasi Police on Wednesday. They also went to Bekasi General Hospital to undergo a medical examination to record their wounds and complete the report.

Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Indarto said he had not received any information about the report.

“What report?” he asked the The Jakarta Post. “What were they doing on the streets? 

Pratiwi Febry, a public advocate with the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), said a police officer should never ask such questions when a hate crime is reported. “What they did on the streets should never be the focus of the investigation.”


This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Nov. 23, 2018, with the title "‘Waria’ fight for rights after attack".

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