Human Rights Watch is reporting that police in Indonesia arrested twelve trans women and forced them to appear masculine.
Police in the Aceh province raided five beauty salons frequented by transgender women, where they arrested both customers and workers.
Twelve of the women arrested were dragged outside and forced to remove their shirts. A crowd formed as police cut their hair and made them wear men’s clothes.
According to the local news site Coconuts, the police then made the women run and chant loudly “until their male voices came out.”
An officer then shouted at them, “Are you still waria [trans women] now?” To which they replied, “No.”
Addressing the crowd, North Aceh Police Chief Untung Sangaji said, “Our ulama [Muslim scholars] disagree with this disease. [This disease] is spreading. It’s inhumane to tolerate this sissy garbage.”
Police also found pornography on some of the women’s phones, which is illegal in Aceh. They said it would be used as evidence against them.
Sangaji told the newspaper Kompas, “Mothers came to me crying. They said their sons were given free treatment at the salon, seduced by waria. This is not good and must be punished. I hope we can curb this disease in this society.”
Human rights groups have denounced the raids.
“Cutting the hair of those arrested to ‘make them masculine’ and forcing them to dress like men are forms of public shaming and amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in contravention of Indonesia’s international obligations,” said Usman Hamid of Amnesty International Indonesia.
The Aceh province is majority-Muslim. In 2001, the national government gave the province latitude to enforce religious law.