KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 ― Local transgender activist Nisha Ayub is among the four recipients named for the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism by watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW), the global rights watchdog announced today.
Nisha, who is part of rights group Justice for Sisters (JFS), will receive her award at the Voices for Justice Human Rights Watch Annual Dinner in Amsterdam on November 5, which is one of 20 such dinners to be held worldwide this year.
“For over a decade, Nisha Ayub has championed the rights of transgender people in Malaysia through support services, legal and policy analysis, and public outreach,” HRW said in a statement.
“Human Rights Watch honors Nisha Ayub for challenging the discriminatory laws that prevent transgender people in Malaysia from living free of violence, fear, and oppression.”
HRW said the award celebrates the valour of activists who put their lives on the line to create a world free from abuse, discrimination, and oppression.
“The Alison Des Forges Award honors people who work courageously and selflessly to defend human rights, often in dangerous situations and at great personal sacrifice,” HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said.
“The honorees have dedicated their lives to defending the world’s most oppressed and vulnerable people.”
The award is named after Dr Alison Des Forges, a senior adviser at HRW who died in a plane crash in New York State on February 12, 2009. She was the world’s leading expert on Rwanda, the 1994 genocide, and its aftermath.
Besides Nisha, the three other recipients are Yara Bader, a journalist and human rights activist in war-torn Syria; Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan; and Nicholas Opiyo, a human rights lawyer and founder of the human rights organization Chapter Four Uganda.
In April, Nisha was awarded “Hero of the Year” at the second Asia LGBT Milestone Awards (ALMAs) in Bangkok.
Nisha and JFS gained prominence last year for assisting three Muslim transgender women here in their constitutional challenge of a Shariah legislation in Negri Sembilan that outlaws men from cross-dressing, a watershed case that they won in the Court of Appeal.
Negri Sembilan is contesting the decision in the Federal Court, with the hearing scheduled for this Thursday.