Transwomen hosed down with fire truck for ‘impurity cleansing’ by authorities in Indonesia: Activists

Three transwomen in Indonesia’s Lampung province after authorities hosed them down with a fire truck. Photo: Twitter / @andreasharsono
Three transwomen in Indonesia’s Lampung province after authorities hosed them down with a fire truck. Photo: Twitter / @andreasharsono

Three transwomen in the Indonesian province of Lampung were reportedly hosed down by authorities on Friday evening in yet another instance of extrajudicial punishment against the oft-persecuted gender minority.

As reported by VOA Indonesia yesterday, officers from the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) of Pesisir Barat Regency apprehended the three waria (an Indonesian portmanteau combining the local words for female and male) at a local tourism spot. They were then hosed down using water from a fire truck,  with the Satpol PP officers reportedly saying it was a form of “mandi wajib”, an Islamic bathing ritual required to cleanse one off of Junub, the state of ritual impurity after sexual intercourse or seminal discharge.

LBH Masyarakat (Community Legal Aid Foundation) condemned the Satpol PP officers’ action towards the waria as having absolutely no legal basis.

“Is there [any law justifying] such an inhumane act, hosing down people at night using a firetruck hose? Is there any punishment like that in the regional bylaw? No there isn’t,” LBH Masyarakat public advocate Naila Rizki said.

Photos of the hosing down were taken by the Satpol PP officers and posted online, as shared by Human Rights Watch Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono on Twitter.

“[The officers’] intention was to torture people, demean them. So [the officers’] goal is not to enforce the law but to uphold their own version of morality,” Naila said.

In light of this incident, an LGBT advocacy group in Lampung is urging the authorities to not persecute gender and sexual minorities.

“My message to the authorities, be it the police, Satpol PP, military, and the like, please see us LGBT as human beings. Regardless of our sexual orientation, we have the same rights as all Indonesian citizens,” said an anonymous LGBT activist in Lampung.

There have been no reports of charges being pressed against the Satpol PP officers over the incident.

Also read: #Uninstallgojek and the high cost of supporting LGBT rights in Indonesia

The waria community have frequently become victims of inhumane persecution in Indonesia’s Aceh province — the only region in the country with special autonomy to implement sharia law and the only region to have outlawed homosexuality and “sexual deviance”. Earlier this year, Aceh’s religious police rounded up a dozen waria and forcefully shaved their heads and gave them men’s clothing during what they termed a “community sickness operation.”

Another high profile case of persecution against waria occurred during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan this year in Cianjur, West Java, in which the local police, accompanied members of hardline Islamic groups to physically restrain and harass transwomen in an attempt to force them to be more masculine.

Human Rights Watch recently released a report highlighting a disturbing rise in persecution against LGBT individuals in Indonesia. In addition to vigilante acts, it has also taken the form of state-sponsored persecution involving a number of anti-LGBT statements and policies made by government officials in the last few weeks.  


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