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Khartini Slamah

In this podcast Khartini Slamah from Malaysia talks about attending the human rights conference.

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Summary

In the 2011 podcast recorded at the Wellington Town Hall, Khartini Slamah from Malaysia discusses their experiences at a human rights conference dedicated to transgender issues, a subject often neglected in the Asia Pacific region. This conference marked a significant event as it was the first of its kind to specifically address the challenges and concerns of the transgender community in this region. During the conference, Slamah presented a paper detailing the hardships faced by transgender sex workers, including violence, health concerns, and various forms of discrimination and persecution from both religious authorities and law enforcement.

As the founder of the Asia Pacific Transgender Network, Slamah highlighted the value of conferences that offer a platform for sharing experiences and challenges familiar to transgender individuals across different countries. Despite varied levels of discrimination—which can range from moderate to severe in different states, such as military-run Cambodia or Fiji—there remains a commonality in the issues they face.

In Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, the recognition and rights of transgender individuals have regressed over time. Slamah noted that decades ago, there was a semblance of acknowledgement for the transgender community, but as of their speaking, legal recognition was nonexistent. This lack of recognition is a critical concern, further complicated by the dual system of civil and Sharia laws, the latter varying across the different states controlled by individual sultans.

Slamah draws attention to harsh realities in Malaysia, where many transgender individuals may resort to sex work due to limited employment opportunities. This career choice is further reinforced by societal stereotypes and familial rejection. Slamah rejects the notion that transgender people seek special rights, instead advocating for equal rights that any citizen is entitled to, in Malaysia and beyond.

Addressing the notion of equal rights in public can be a risky proposition for Slamah, as it challenges societal perceptions of transgender individuals as sex objects, perpetuated by negative media portrayals and entrenched classism. To change these perceptions, Slamah emphasizes the importance of continued advocacy and public awareness campaigns that extend into educational contexts. Slamah laments that sex education in Malaysia is binary and generally misguided, perpetuating misconceptions about the transgender community.

Looking to the future, Slamah dreams of a society where transgender individuals are accepted as equals by the Malaysian people, where they are recognized not just by society but also by law as legitimate citizens with full rights. The path to this future, as they describe it, is through persistent advocacy aimed at enlightening the public and altering deep-seated biases.

The session, as recorded in this podcast, sheds light on the plight of transgender individuals in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific, underscoring the broader struggle for human rights and the pressing need for legal and social reforms to provide equal rights for all.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:16th March 2011
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Location:Wellington Town Hall, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004169).
URL:https://www.pridenz.com/apog_khartini_slamah_1.html