Imprisoned trans woman Malak al-Kashif has been sexually assaulted and subjected to a forced anal examination by employees of a public hospital, according to a statement issued by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) on Monday.
In its statement, the ECRF called on the Interior Ministry to stop the “inhumane treatment” Kashif is being subjected to, calling it a form of torture. The rights organization called on authorities to immediately release Kashif, adding that the ministry is responsible for any physical and psychological harm she incurs while in police custody.
Kashif’s legal team do not know who ordered the forced anal examinations but have pledged to take legal action against the party responsible.
Forced anal examinations are routinely performed by Egyptian investigators on detainees authorities identify as trans women or gay men.
The practice has been widely condemned by human rights organizations as having no forensic value and violating international standards against torture. In October 2017, the World Medical Association called for the prohibition of the procedure.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement following the WMA call, saying that forced anal examinations “involve doctors or other medical personnel forcibly inserting their fingers, and sometimes other objects, into a person’s anus to attempt to determine whether that person has engaged in anal intercourse,” describing the practice as having “no scientific basis, violat[ing] medical ethics, and constitut[ing] cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment that can rise to the level of torture.”
In Egypt, “men and transgender women arrested on charges of “debauchery” are systematically referred to the Forensic Medicine Authority, a branch of the Justice Ministry, for forced anal examinations, and the results are regularly used in court to put people behind bars on the grounds of their presumed sexual orientation,” the HRW statement added.
Kashif was arrested on March 6, held in a National Security Agency facility overnight, and then appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, who ordered her to be detained for 15 days. She has been held in solitary confinement in the Haram Police Station since, according to her lawyers.
The 19 year old has been added to Case 1739/2018, which includes at least 35 people, including trans man Hossam Ahmed, who have been arrested over the past two weeks and are being held pending investigations into charges of joining an illegal organization and spreading false news. The case also includes six members of political parties who were arrested in January after attending a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the 2011 revolution.
Reports of her arrest were widely circulated on social media, with users drawing attention to the fact that her detention may leave her vulnerable to serious abuse at the hands of Egyptian authorities and other inmates, including the potential for harassment, assault and rape.
These threats are exacerbated by the fact that Kashif’s official documents, including her national ID, identify her as “male,” despite what social media users say have been sustained efforts to change her documentation. As such, it is likely that she would be held in male detention facilities, a number of social media users pointed out.
Kashif is described as a trans and LGBTQ rights activist by some social media users. She came to the public fore in 2017, when local media outlets reported on her transition, which she reportedly documented on her personal Facebook account.
In an interview with the Abu Dhabi-based Erem News outlet in September 2018, Kashif speaks out about her struggle of coming out as trans in Egypt, saying that she attempted suicide in the summer of 2018 by jumping out a fifth-floor balcony — resulting in severe injuries to her arm and pelvis — but faced difficulty in receiving adequate medical treatment in public hospitals, at points being held in male wards and threatened by medical staff with arrest.
Kashif’s arrest was part of an ongoing security crackdown that started on February 27, in which at least 70 people have been arrested across Egypt — mainly in Cairo and Alexandria — for alleged involvement in small-scale anti-government demonstrations in the aftermath of a train crash in Cairo’s Ramses Station that killed 22 people on February 27.
While social media users criticized the government’s lack of investment in railway infrastructure and called for protests following the crash, Mada Masr has not been able to document any protests since last week’s deadly accident.
Many of those detained have been apprehended in public spaces in Egypt’s two largest cities, in areas where security forces had been deployed to prevent protests. Several people have also been arrested from their homes.
The majority of those who have been detained as part of Case 1739/2018 are under 20 years old and do not have any history of political activism, lawyers previously told Mada Masr.