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Kuwait: Repressive Dress-Code Law Encourages Police Abuse

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: Do Jan 17, 2008 21:23 
   Onderwerp: Kuwait: Repressive Dress-Code Law Encourages Police Abuse
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Authorities should immediately release more than a dozen persons jailed under Kuwait’s new dress-code law, Human Rights Watch said today.
The law, approved by the National Assembly on December 10, 2007, criminalizes people who “imitate the appearance of the opposite sex.”

“The wave of arrests in the past month shows exactly why Kuwait should repeal this repressive law,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of the
Middle East division at Human Rights Watch. “Kuwaiti authorities should immediately drop all charges against those arrested, and
investigate charges of ill-treatment in detention.”

Security officials have arrested at least 14 people in Kuwait City since the National Assembly approved an addition (Article 199 bis) to
Article 198 of the Criminal Code. The amendment states that “any person committing an indecent act in a public place, or imitating the
appearance of a member of the opposite sex, shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding one
thousand dinars [US$3,500].”



Dress codes based solely on gender stereotypes restrict both freedom of expression and personal autonomy, Human Rights Watch said. The only
known targets of the new Kuwaiti law have been transgender people – individuals born into one gender who deeply identify themselves with
another.

Kuwait allows transgender people neither to change their legal identity to match the gender in which they live, nor to adapt their physical
appearance through gender reassignment surgery. The new law, coming after months of controversy, aims at further restricting their rights
and completely eliminating their public presence.
In September 2007, the newspaper Al Arabiya reported a new government campaign “to combat the growing phenomenon of gays and transsexuals”
in Kuwait.



On December 18, 2007, Al Watan newspaper announced the arrests of three people at a police checkpoint in Salimeya, 10 km southeast of Kuwait
City. Days later, police arrested three more people at a checkpoint in Kuwait City.

On December 21, security officials detained another three people on Restaurant Street in the Hawalli district, 8 km south of Kuwait City.
The same day, two other people were detained at another police checkpoint. Authorities have reportedly arrested three more people in
January, one in a coffee shop and two in a taxi stopped by police. Police arrested all 14 because they believed they were “imitating the
appearance of the opposite sex.”



All the people detained are being held in Tahla Prison. Friends of the accused told Human Rights Watch that police and prison guards
subjected the detainees to physical and psychological abuse. Al-Rai newspaper quoted police as saying that the “confused [men were]
deposited in the special ward,” and that the prison administration ordered guards to shave their heads as a form of punishment.

The paper quoted a prison administrator as saying “this step [shaving heads] follows the passage of the law concerning men who imitate the
appearance of women.” Friends report that at least three of the prisoners were beaten and one was left unconscious. Authorities deported
one Saudi Arabian national among those arrested, to face trial in that country. None of the detainees has access to legal representation.



Transgender people in Kuwait tell Human Rights Watch that they are now afraid to leave their homes – even for work or to meet basic needs
– for fear of arrest and ill-treatment. Arbitrary and intrusive gender-based codes for acceptable demeanor and dress violate the rights to
privacy and to free expression protected under international law.

The beatings and ill-treatment to which authorities reportedly subjected the prisoners violate internationally recognized prohibitions
against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
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BerichtGeplaatst: Do Feb 21, 2008 18:23 
   Onderwerp: Re: Kuwait: Repressive Dress-Code Law Encourages Police Abus
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Ze doen net alsof ze God zijn... als er eentje bestaat zal dat ze nog lelijk opbreken..
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