Is Tolerance too much to Ask? Human Rights Watch Kuwait

is Tolerance too much to ask?The report by Human Rights Watch (here in English and here in Arabic) regarding the treatment of transgender women (men who underwent surgery to become women) in Kuwait by Police Officers has sparked massive outcry on the Twitter-verse, with many proclaiming that Human Rights Watch (HRW) should keep out of Kuwait affairs as this subject matter is sensitive, and tackles the issue of cultural identity.

As of right now, no country in the Arab world no country (or very, very few) has rights for any transgender individuals. It is illegal to dress as a member of the opposite sex in the majority Arab Countries, hence, the idea of being a transgender is thoroughly frowned upon and viewed as a shame to the persons family.

However, it is important to realize that transgenders do exist, and it is also their right not to be discriminated against.

This is an internal issue, granted, but it is an issue that must be tackled on a proper platform.

Kuwait Times have a report on the harassment that occurs in Kuwait (here).

These individuals make up a fraction, albeit a minute fraction, but a fraction nonetheless, of the Kuwaiti population. They are human, and should not be treated as animals. If indeed they are being brutalized by the authorities, then it is their right as citizens to be protected. Although one can argue that in essence, they are in fact breaking the law, hence authority intervention is necessary. It is a huge grey area, but one that deserves attention. It cannot merely be swept under the rug for fear it would damage the national image.

Here is a nicely written piece on the issue of Sexuality and National Heritage (link).

Kuwait Times had run an interview once with a troubled teenage transgender boy (first degree Kuwaiti) who underwent surgery and was shunned by his father, mother, brothers and sister. The Police officers who would arrest him would, according to him, ask for his number. The full article can be found here , a few excerpts:

I have four brothers and one sister; I’m the middle son between my brothers and the spoiled brat. All my brothers and sister treat me really badly and ask my father to kick me out of the house – they don’t want me with them. Maybe my father hasn’t thrown me out yet because he is afraid for his name and reputation or maybe it’s love, I really don’t know, but how can a parent that loves their son wish him to die because he is a transsexual?

I’ve had four nose jobs, Botox injections in the face and lips and collagen in my butt. I had my Adam’s apple removed, underwent body liposuction and hair- removal. I pluck my eyebrows, fix my nails and treat my skin to Moroccan baths to keep it clean and smooth. I use face and body creams constantly, I inject my face with oxygen to keep it glowing and healthy. I use feminine perfumes and sexy female underwear and I always take care of my outer appearance, but the major change that occurred to my physical appearance is my silicone breast implant,” he explained.

What is so hypocritical in the story was the policemen who caught me, shaved my head then tried to sleep with me. This is not all – if any policeman stops me in the street and asks for my number and I refuse, he will threaten to take me to the police station,” he revealed.

The issue of transgenders in predominantly Muslim countries is rarely discussed openly, despite its widespread occurrence. It is not an easy issue to tackle, for the matter is not black or white, there are several shades of grey.

Indonesia, the country that boasts the highest number of Muslims in the world has its own issues with transgenders, but these transgenders are practicing Muslims (link & link).

We are not asking you to accept something, only not to be quick to judge. Everyone deserves a right to free living.


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