Trans woman assaulted in Cameroon

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A transgender woman was assaulted and humiliated in mid-November in Yaoundé, Cameroon, as videos posted on social media show. Members of the local LGBT community report that they regularly experience attack and discrimination, and that transgender people are the most affected among them.

On November 19, a resident of the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé contacted the AXADLETM Observers team on WhatsApp about an attack on a transgender person in his city a few days earlier. According to Amnesty International, “The gender identity or gender expression of transgender people is different from the typical expectations of the gender assigned to them at birth.

There are several videos of this attack, but our team decided to only post screenshots due to their disturbing nature. This article contains descriptions of these videos, which may shock some readers.

One of the videos, which is just over two and a half minutes long, was shot in a room with several men. At first, one of the men, who is wearing a blue shirt, appears to be blocking the woman to the ground.

We hear, “Wait and see what happens to you! They then pull her hair, her bra back and hit her repeatedly, as she screams. The men also force her to stand up so that she can take a nude photo, holding her hair back. Towards the end of the video, they yell at him to “spread [her] anus “and hit her on the buttocks.

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© {{scope.credits}} In another video of similar length, the man in the blue shirt pulls the woman by the hair in the street, among several people. Another man hits her with a stick. The man in the blue shirt then hits her on the head several times. The woman screams in terror. Several people repeat “open your feet”, “spread your legs” and say “show your face”. Someone is pulling his hair. Eventually, several people grabbed her feet and wrists to see her body, including her genitals.

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© {{scope.credits}} ‘Trans people always experience more violence than the rest of the LGBT community’Parice, who identifies as a non-binary transgender person, is the program director of Positive Vision, an organization that promotes the rights of trans people in Cameroon.

I know Bijou, the trans woman who was beaten, because she is one of the beneficiaries of our association. After her assault, she was taken to safety in a shelter in the suburbs of Yaoundé, managed by the CAMFAIDS association. [Editor’s note: CAMFAIDSfights against HIV/AIDS]. We therefore have news of him through this association.

What we do know is that Bijou was with a man the day she was attacked. They had had a drink together and she hadn’t told him she was trans. He found out later, while they were having sex. He then told the neighbors and Bijou was dragged outside. As a result, two men took her to the police station. Fortunately, she was released a few hours later as things calmed down, as there were a lot of people around the police station.

Trans people are victims of psychological or physical abuse all the time: taunts, mimicry, beatings … Personally, I hear about seven to ten cases per week at the moment.

Trans people still experience more violence than the rest of the LGBT community. I think it’s because they express themselves more than homosexuals, through their outfits, the fact that they hide less, people sometimes notice their facial hair … tolerance.

In addition, trans people are constantly discriminated against in society. In terms of access to health services, for example, hospitals refuse to treat them. As far as work is concerned, it is a disaster: that is why the majority of them are involved in sex work.

“We have seen an increase in violence recently” Claude Asanji is the deputy coordinator of the human rights and advocacy unit of Humanity First Cameroon Plus, an association which defends LGBT people. He too believes that trans people are most affected by violence within the LGBT community.

Just between September and November, I counted a hundred cases of violence against trans people. We’ve seen an increase in violence recently, since the Covid-19 lockdowns, likely because people have stayed at home, watching their neighbors.

When videos of attacks are posted on social networks, the vast majority of people do not denounce the violence: on the contrary, they speak out to incite hatred against LGBT people.

In general, I think that violence against the LGBT community is mainly linked to discriminatory laws in Cameroon, starting with article 347-1 of the Penal Code.

Up to five years’ imprisonment for homosexual persons This article of the Cameroonian Penal Code, entitled “Homosexuality”, provides: “Anyone who has sex with a person of his gender. from 20,000 to 200,000 francs [30 to 205 euros].

Claude Asanji continued:

If these laws did not exist, in case of violence, we could go to court or to the police. But at the moment this is not possible. If we go to the police, they might beat us up or ask us for money. For example, I know a homosexual who was taken to the police recently, where he had to pay 150,000 francs [229 euros] to be freed. And whenever these police officers need money in the future, they will just have to call him back and ask him, otherwise they will harass him.

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