On 15 July 2019, 19-year-old transgender woman human rights defender Malak al-Kashef was released on the basis of an order by the State Security Prosecution after more than 120 days in pre-trial detention. Although charges against her were not dropped, it is unlikely judicial authorities would pursue the case further according to her lawyer.
Malak al-Kashef is a 19-year-old transgender woman human rights defender who was arbitrarily detained in solitary confinement at the all-male Mazra’at Tora Prison. On 6 March 2019, Malak was taken by National Security Agency (NSA) officers from her family’s residence in Giza, in relation to her online posts calling for protests following the 27 February 2019 fire incident at the Ramses train station, in Cairo. Malak was facing trumped-up charges of “aiding a terrorist organization” and “misusing social media to commit a crime punishable by law” in case 1739/2018. Malak was arrested along with at least 35 other people.
On 10 March 2019, Malak was subjected to a forced anal examination at a government hospital, where she was also subjected to other forms of sexual assault by medical staff, according to her lawyer. These acts constitute a form of torture and other ill-treatment, which violate the UN Convention against Torture (CAT), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Egypt is party to all three treaties.
Amnesty International was deeply concerned that Malak’s detention in an all-male facility rendered her vulnerable to further sexual harassment, assault and rape by the detaining authorities and other inmates. After her release, Malak filed a case in administrative court requesting the Ministry of Interior to provide separate detention facilities in prisons and police stations for transgender detainees undergoing gender reassignment treatment. The first hearing in the case is schedule for 17 April 2020.
Supporters around the world signed petitions and sent letters to the Egyptians authorities calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Malak al-Kashef. They also sent support letters to Malak through her lawyer. Upon release, Malak thanked Amnesty: “What Amnesty International did for me through campaigning, support, and advocacy when the Egyptian authorities arrested me was both inspiring and reassuring. I think we have acquired a new voice and advocate for LGBTI issues, that voice was your support and it is an important step in our struggle”. “Thank you, may you be our voice and platform”, she added.