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Startseite Urgent Actions 2019 04 Transgender woman held in all-male prison
UA 043/19
Abgeschlossen am 21. Mai 2019

Transgender woman held in all-male prison

AI-Index: MDE 12/0168/2019

Malak al-Kashef is a 19-year-old transgender woman human rights defender, arbitrarily detained in the all-male Mazra’at Tora prison. On 6 March 2019, National Security Agency (NSA) officers arrested Malak at her family’s residence in Giza. Malak’s arrest was part of a massive arrest campaign that followed the 27 February fire incident at Cairo’s main train station, which killed 25 people. Malak is facing the trumped-charges of «aiding a terrorist organization» and «misusing social media to commit a crime punishable by law». On March 10, the authorities subjected Malak to a forced anal examination at a government hospital, where she was also subjected to other forms of sexual assault.


In the early hours of 6 March 2019, NSA officers raided Malak’s family residence in Giza and abducted her after she called on social media for protests following the 27 February train wreck incident that killed 25 people in Cairo. The authorities then took Malak to an undisclosed location, and on 7 March, she appeared before a Supreme State Security Prosecutor without a lawyer and was handed a 15-day detention order. On 10 March, Malak was subjected to a forced anal examination at a government hospital based on a prosecutor’s orders. She was also subjected to other forms of sexual assault and harassment by medical staff, according to one of her lawyers.

It was only on 10 March that Malak’s lawyers were finally able to confirm that she was being held in solitary confinement at the al-Haram police station in Cairo. The lawyers had sent notices to the office of the Public Prosecutor and the Minister of Interior on the day of her arrest notifying them that Malak had in her possession medical documents from the Al-Hussein University Hospital which stated that she was undergoing gender affirming surgery. Despite her possessing these documents, Malak was placed in an all-male detention facility as her official documents, including her national identity card, still identify her as «male». On 19 March, a prosecutor issued a 15-day detention renewal order and ordered her transfer to Mazra’at Tora prison, an all-male facility. Malak is currently in arbitrary detention pending trumped-up charges of «aiding a terrorist organization» and «misusing social media to commit a crime punishable by law» in case 1739/2018. According to one of her lawyers, the case includes at least 35 other people who have been arrested in relation to calls for or participating in protests following the fatal train wreck.

Malak is a human rights defender known for her outspokenness on LGBTI rights in Egypt. She became known in 2017 for publicly documenting her transition on social media. In an interview with an Abu Dhabi-based new outlet, Erem News, in September 2018, Malak also spoke openly about her suicide attempt, when she jumped off a fifth-floor balcony and badly injured her arm and pelvis. She recounted how she struggled to get medical attention in public hospitals, where she said she was threatened with arrest by medical staff. Malak was still receiving treatment for her injuries when she was arrested. Currently in solitary confinement at Mazra’at Tora Prison, Malak is in need of ongoing medical care. She is diabetic and requires a daily shot of insulin.

Amnesty International is concerned that Malak’s detention in an all-male detention centre may expose her to a wide range of serious violations at the hands of the detaining authorities and other inmates, including potential sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. Neither same-sex sexual activity nor gender affirming surgeries are banned under the law in Egypt. However, in recent years, Egypt’s authorities have waged a sinister campaign targeting LGBTI people and carried out dozens of arrests and forced anal examinations, using «debauchery» laws, in blatant violation of international law.

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