A posed portrait of 36 year old Erina who was forced to become a sex worker to survive. Like many tans-gender women in Malaysia, she has faced discrimination and violence on numerous occasions. Aside from the casual verbal abuse, being forced to wear male clothes in a job she had in a hotel, her family members forcibly cutting her hair short, she has been arrested and beaten. She has also been raped, once by three men who also beat her with sticks. She didn’t make a report to the police “The police are bad too” she says, “and the next thing you know, you’ll be the one who is arrested”. On one occasion, when she was arrested for cross-dressing (a crime in some parts of Malaysia), she was taken to the police cells. One of the inmates forced her to perform oral sex on him. She was transferred to another prison where, the next day, she was raped. One of the inmates penetrated her. He was not wearing a condom. Erin complained to the police, but they threatened to beat her and sent her back into the same cell with the man who raped her. For transgender sex workers, rape is common. Most feel they cannot go to the police as they are considered men and there is a perception that men cannot be raped. Worse, they will face further persecution from the police should they report a case of sexual violence. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. January 2015.  While many countries around the world are legally recognizing same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Africa is becoming the worst continent for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for woman; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of ‘corrective rape’ and homosexuals have been murdered for their sexuality. Homophobia is by no means just an African problem. In Russia, politicians spread intolerance. In June 2013 the country passed a law making “propaganda” about “non-traditional sexual relationships” a crime. Attacks against gays rose. Videos of gay men being tortured have been posted online. In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. Increased extreme Islamification in the Middle East is making life more dangerous for gay men there, as evidenced by ISIS’s recent murders of homosexual men. While homophobic discrimination is widespread in Lebanon, life is much safer there than Iran, Iraq, and Syria from which refugees are fleeing due to homophobic persecution. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos for Witness Change

Erina /

“My name is Erina, I am 36 years old and I am Transgender women. I come from east Malaysia. i come to Kuala Lumpur in 1977. I don’t have any qualification and I have to do sex workers. In east Malaysia customer don’t like Transgenders sex workes. Most of them run to Kuala Lumpur because east Malaysia are gangsters they like to beat up transgender women.
The First time my experience arrested by police in Kuala Lumpur, I stay in lock up for 2 weeks I was raped by the Inmates. I Told the police about my case but the police didn’t anything.
For my family being a Transwoman is wrong in Islam, my second brother always beat me up and cut my hair 2 times and also he burn my clothes. I run away from home town because my family cannot accept me.
I Follow my friends and Work at ChokKit KL one days I was arrested by police again this is second time I was arrested. 12 at night I was doing outreach at Chowkit but didn’t notice they there was a police raid. A police man knock my car window and as me for my I/C. I show my I/C but the police says this is male I/C and then they bring me the police station. They hand cuffed me. The police Allowed me to call 2 person. The police was cursing me.
They send me to religious authority. The religious authority ask me to change my clothes in Front of them. Syariah Law charge rm1000 for trans woman who is waring women’s clothes.”

Share this story:Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrEmail to someone