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Monday, January 16, 2006

Nepal police step up attacks on transgender people

Police officials in Nepal have unleashed a string of attacks on transgender people, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

“Police in Kathmandu are violently attacking and even sexually abusing transgender people to clear the streets of people they deem immoral,” Scott Long, director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Nepali human rights groups are calling this crackdown ‘sexual cleansing.’ This amoral campaign has to stop.”

In the latest reported incident, on January 3 at about 10 p.m., three metis were walking in the Thamel district of Kathmandu. A local slang term for transgender people, a meti is a man by birth who identifies as a woman. Four uniformed police from Durbar Marg police station reportedly saw them and shouted, “Metis! Kill them!”

One meti was beaten with a baton on her back; one policeman pulled his gun and pointed it at her, saying, "These hijras pollute the society and must be cleaned out. ” (Hijra is a common term for a transgender person.) The two other metis were also beaten severely. All three reportedly have bruises on various parts of their bodies.

The Blue Diamond Society, a Nepalese nongovernmental organization defending sexual rights and sexual health, has documented numerous such incidents. On December 31 at about 11 p.m., also in Kathmandu’s Thamel district, a meti was detained by police at Shore Khutte police station. One policeman beat her with a bamboo baton, calling her derogatory names. She escaped, but her right hand is reportedly swollen and badly bruised.

On December 28 at about 1:30 a.m., a meti named Sahiba was arrested in the Thamel district. She was taken to the Shore Khutte police station. There police verbally abused her and commanded her to strip. When she refused, they stripped her forcibly of her clothes and checked her genitals while mocking her. They threatened to cut off her hair as punishment for wearing women’s clothes. She was released the next day.

In yet another incident, early on the morning of December 7, police from the Shore Khutte station raided a hotel in the Thamel district. The raid was reportedly in retaliation against the hotel for refusing to provide a room free of charge for four policemen to have sexual relations with two metis. During the raid 11 metis were arrested. Eight were held without charge for five days, then released; the other three were held for an additional day.

“The police are using brutal harassment and detention without charge to clear transgender people off the streets,” Long said. “These attacks reflect a law enforcement system that is unchecked and operating outside the law.” (


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