Monday, October 26, 2020

The brutal reality transgender women face under Myanmar's 'darkness law'

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Editors’ Note: This story describes situations that could be upsetting for some readers.

YANGON, Myanmar — A transgender sex worker in Myanmar’s main city of Yangon was waiting for customers on a dark street one night last year when two police officers approached her and demanded she have sex with them for free.

When she refused and tried to run away the officers chased her down and cuffed her hands behind her back. Then, accompanied by a plainclothes colleague, they led her behind a parked truck and forced her to kneel on the concrete as all three men orally raped her.

The “darkness law” gives police sweeping powers to arrest anyone they deem to be acting suspiciously.

Just a few weeks earlier she had been serving a month in prison after her arrest under a colonial-era statute known as the “darkness law,” which gives police sweeping powers to arrest anyone they deem to be acting suspiciously.

The law, a section of the Police Act enacted under British rule, carries a maximum sentence of three months and has been used across the country in recent years as part of a crackdown on the…



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