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Indonesian Transgender Rights Defender Shinta Ratri Wins International Human Rights Prize

In recognition of her courageous work to safeguard rights of the transgender people, Indonesian human rights activist Shinta Ratri has been named the regional winner for Asia of the annual Front Line Defenders Award.

Shinta has been running an Islamic school since 2008 which offers the opportunity for the transgender people to practice their faith. The award was presented during a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, on 17th May, a date which marks the International Day Against Homophobia.

Ratri, who is a waria transgender person, co-founded Pondok Pesantren Waria al-Fatah, an Islamic school, with the aim of providing shelter to older transgender women who have been abandoned by their families. Although Indonesians are generally tolerant towards the transgender community, in 2016, an extremist group attacked the school amidst growing anti-LGBT+ sentiments.

Shinta reopened the school after the attacks and currently houses dozens of transgender people who live a respectable life in the school. Front Line Defenders Executive Director Andrew Anderson heaped praise on human rights defenders like Shinta saying that the resistance herself and others like her show every day was inspiring.

“The work of queer-identifying activists and collectives continues to shape and reshape how we understand personal, political and contested struggles for freedom. There is no human rights fight that has not been strengthened by the intersectional analyses brought to the front lines by queer defenders,” Andrew said.

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