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Gasia Ohanes

Detained Kuwaiti transgender woman 'safe and sound at home', lawyer says

Al-Mutairi was likely arrested over accusations of violating article 198 of Kuwait's Penal Code [Twitter]

Date of publication: 9 June, 2020

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Maha Al-Mutairi, who was detained was released Monday night, according to her legal representative.
A Kuwaiti transgender woman who was detained after alleging abuse at the hands of police officers in a viral video was released Monday night, after the arrest sparked outrage on social media.

"I was born a girl, you imprisoned me as a girl, and I will die as a girl," Maha Al-Mutairi said in the video posted prior to her detainment.

She also detailed abuses she allegedly faced inside a men's prison, including rape and physical and psychological torture.

Before Al-Mutairi's release, her lawyer Shaikha Salmeen tweeted that she had lost contact with her client after she was transferred to the public prosecution.

Many of the activists who were calling Al-Mutairi's release attributed it to the level of backlash that erupted on social media against Kuwait with several hashtags trending about the detainee.

"Kuwaiti activists were advocating on behalf of Maha for almost a week but not even a day after #WhereIsMahaAlmutairi starting gaining traction in the west, she was found and released," a Muslim transgender rights activist wrote in a tweet.

Salmeen tweeted about Al-Mutairi's release on Monday evening. "Maha is safe and sound at home," the lawyer said, but followed up by stating that the fight for transgender rights in the country was far from over. 

"This is not just a fight for Maha, this is for every Maha in Kuwait! You are not forgotten," Salmeen said.

The lawyer also promoted a Gofundme page set-up for Al-Mutairi, who previously spoke out about facing financial struggles as a result of transgender discrimination.

Read more: Kuwait transgender woman imprisoned after speaking out on abuse by authorities

The campaign will help Al-Mutairi "get her life back" after she's released, according to the description, while the money collected will help pay for her rent and food.

Despite the release, social media users are continuing the campaign to help other transgender people who are prosecuted under Article 198 of Kuwait's Penal Code that criminalises "imitating the opposite gender."

The article has been used by police officers to subject transgender women to sexual, physical and mental abuse, while threatening to 'expose' them if they spoke out, according to accounts of former detainees published by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).


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