LGBTQ advocates in Egypt claim police harassed and sexually abused a transgender woman while she was in custody.
According to the Associated Press, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms say police in Cairo arrested Malak el-Kashe, who’s trans, on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. El-Kashe was later subjected to an anal exam at a government hospital, which activists claim was unjustified and amounts to torture and sexual abuse.
Police arrested el-Kashe after she called for protests regarding a deadly train crash in Cairo. The crash, which took place on February 27, killed at least 25 people.
El-Kashe wasn’t the only Egyptian arrested for demanding protests, either: According to AP, she’s among dozens of people now in police custody.
Prosecutors have decided to hold el-Kashe for 15 days to investigate her possible affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned terrorist group. Meanwhile, advocates are calling for her “unconditional” release.
The state of LGBTQ equality in Egypt is dismal: According to EqualDex, the country still has laws on the books banning gay sex. Marriage equality and same-sex adoption aren’t legal, either—and while trans Egyptians can apply for legal name changes without mandatory gender-confirming surgeries (GCS), there are virtually no legal protections in place for LGBTQ people in Egypt.
Reports of el-Kashe’s abuse by police officers comes less than two years after an anti-LGBTQ crackdown in New Cairo. In September 2017, more than 50 LGBTQ Egyptians were arrested after they waved gay pride flags at a Mashrou’ Leila concert. (The band’s lead singer, Hamed Sinno, is openly gay, and some of their songs address LGBTQ issues.)