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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Nepal transsexual 'abuse' concern

BBC NEWS

A leading human rights group has written to Nepal's government voicing concern over what it calls continuing police abuse of transsexuals.

Human Rights Watch says there has been a pattern of arbitrary arrests and violence against "Metis", who identify themselves as women.

The organisation has called for a full investigations of such abuse and appropriate punishments.

Police in Nepal say they are taking the allegations very seriously.

However, the head of a human rights cell in the police said many of the Metis were working as prostitutes and that as this was illegal in Nepal, raids on hotels were "permissible".

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says Metis are a common sight in the city's streets late at night.

Job skills

Human Rights Watch said that in the past few weeks, Metis had been detained without warrants, badly beaten, burned with cigarettes, forced to strip and even had guns pointed at them.

Similar allegations - sometimes with photographic evidence - are regularly made by the Blue Diamond Society, a charity working among Nepal's transsexuals.

The officer said the police were in dialogue with Blue Diamond on how to train the Metis in other job skills.

Blue Diamond is the subject of a lawsuit by a conservative lawyer who wants it closed down.

However, the government has said there are no legal grounds for doing so.

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