In January, police in Aceh Province raided five beauty salons – a common workplace for transgender women in Indonesia – and arrested 12 people they assumed to be transgender women.
What the 12 people – 9 transgender women and 3 male beauty clients – were put through next was harrowing.
They were publicly humiliated. They were forced to squat-walk to a nearby park where they were subjected to “punishments” for two hours in front of a gathering crowd.
Their hair was cut off – apparently to make them “manlier”. Orders were shouted at them, and they were slapped, kicked, made to roll on the ground and forced to remove most of their clothes. When one of the women refused an order, a warning shot was fired. They spent the night cold and wet on the police station floor.
All this is happening against a backdrop of growing anti LGBTQI sentiment in Aceh.
The next day, the police invited a religious cleric to give a sermon. He announced that it is fine “to kill transgender or other LGBTQI people”.
Before being released, all 12 individuals were made to sign an “agreement not to act like women” and not to complain about any police misconduct.
All of them remain deeply traumatised, with some of the women having lost their jobs and others being forced to flee because they fear for their safety.