In the Central African country of Cameroon, reports have surfaced relating to the brutal bashing of two transgender women. The attack came just mere weeks after the pair were released from prison pending appeal over charges relating to contravening the countries anti-homosexuality laws, and offences relating to public indecency and failing to present photo identification.

The victims have been identified as Shakiro a popular social media personality in the Western Africa nation, and her friend Patricia.

In footage, which has been described by local LGBTQI rights groups as “horrific”, details of the attack have been uncovered. the video footage showing the two women being beaten by a group of 10 bike riders in the port-side city of Douala at around 1am on August 8, 2021.

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According to at least one news source, Shakiro was stripped naked, before the pair were beaten for more than 30 minutes, with the mob also hurling insults and death threats. Both Shakiro and Patricia required urgent medical treatment following the attack.

‘Played Dead To Survive’

“I was stripped naked and hit everywhere on my body by several people,” Shakiro told Human Rights Watch. “I was kicked and slapped. I had to play dead — it was the only way to survive.”

Posting to social media in the wake of the violent attack, local LGBTQI rights group Working for our Wellbeing said in a written statement that “The recent attack on Shakiro by a group of bike riders in the economic capital Douala, is terrible. The images are horrific (Reasons why we will not be putting them on the platform). We continue to reiterate the fact that, sexual and gender minorities are at high risk in Cameroon. The LGBTIQ+ community remains at the blink of ever targeted violence.”

“We hold all authorities accountable, to protect every citizen regardless of their gender as stipulated in the constitution of this great nation. It is time that we rise up together and say no to violence and the abuse of LGBTQ+ persons,” the statement added.

Anti-Homosexuality Laws Target LGBTQI+

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According to lawyer Alice Nkow, who is representing the two victims,  they were arrested on February 8 in a restaurant in Douala upon failing to produce their identification cards upon police request. Neither were carrying IDs with them as their gender markers differ from their gender identity… charges of homosexuality carrying a maximum five-year jail term in Cameroon. It is alleged the pair were arrested simply for the clothes they wore.”

“This is a political decision,” Nkow said. “It’s Yaounde (the central government) that said these people must not bring homosexuality to Cameroon.”

After serving 6 months in prison, they were released on July 16, with Nkow saying in an interview with Reuters that “They are going to leave this prison hell where they don’t belong and where they risked extreme violence every day,”

“We are not going to stop there. We must explain to people that a court must never again convict LGBT people in this way.”

Spate Of Attacks On LGBTQI+ People In Cameroon

According to Human Rights Watch, it is not only from society at large that members of Cameroons LGBTQI communities fear persecution and violence. It has been reported that since the time of Shakiro and Patricia’s arrest in February, Cameroonian security forces have arbitrarily arrested, beaten, or threatened at least 24 people, including a 17-year-old boy, for alleged consensual same-sex conduct or gender nonconformity, with one individual forced to undergo a HIV test and anal examination.

“These recent arrests and abuses raise serious concerns about a new upsurge in anti-LGBT persecution in Cameroon,” Neela Ghoshal associate LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch said, adding that “The law criminalizing same-sex conduct puts LGBT people at a heightened risk of being mistreated, tortured, and assaulted without any consequences for the abusers.”

Shakiro and Patricia’s appeal date is set for September.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

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