Words: Alastair James; pictures: Instagram/@nursajatkamaruzzaman
A Malaysian trans woman who is being sought after by the Malaysian authorities has spoken out about her treatment and how she had to flee the country.
Nur Sajat, 36, is a popular cosmetics entrepreneur and is currently in Australia after being allowed to seek asylum there from Thailand.
She left Malaysia after being charged with insulting Islam by dressing feminine at a religious event in 2018. Malaysia operates under a dual-track system with Islamic Sharia Law applying to Muslims and the rest of the population being charged under civil laws.
"I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my home country"
Speaking to the BBC from Sydney, where she has settled, Sajat explained she had to run away after her harsh treatment by Malaysian authorities.
"I was hit, pushed, handcuffed, all in front of my parents and family. I felt ashamed and sad. I gave them my cooperation, but they still did that to me.
"Maybe it was because they see me as a trans woman, so they did not care if I was held, beaten, stamped on. We trans women have feelings too. We deserve to live our lives like normal people," she told the broadcaster.
She has also said she’s "distraught" at being away from her adopted children, who are now with her family in Malaysia. "I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my home country because I believe they won’t let transgender people live peacefully in Malaysia," she added.
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Reports suggest she went into hiding in March after failing to appear in court in February over the charges of wearing female clothing, which can lead to a three-year prison sentence.
Images appeared last year of Sajat, who identifies as Muslim, dressed in women’s clothing on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the Islamic holy land and she received horrendous comments online.
When contacted by the BBC, Malaysia’s Religious Affairs Minister, Idris Ahmad, maintained Sajat was not a woman, while another official also refused to acknowledge Sajat’s identity.
More than 60 percent of the country is thought to be ethnic Malay Muslims.
In June, the Malaysian government proposed changes to Sharia law that would allow action to be taken against those insulting Islam and “promoting the LGBT lifestyle,” in a country where same-sex acts and sodomy are illegal. However, convictions are rare.
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