Shakiro is known for her transgender-affirming posts
Activists have called on the Cameroonian government to release transgender social media star Shakiro (Mildred Loic) who was arrested with a friend last month on charges of homosexuality.
Shakiro and Patricia (Moute Rolland) were arrested by the gendarmerie (military police) of Nkoulouloun in the city of Douala on 8 February after they failed to produce their identity cards.
According to local news reports, police questioned them about their alleged homosexuality, allegedly using threats and torture. It’s been claimed that police forced them to sign a confession without allowing them to read it.
The two arrestees were later were imprisoned with more than 30 men in a 10-square-meter space where many detainees had to sleep on the floor.
“We have learnt that Shakiro and Patricia did not receive access to a lawyer and their families when they were arrested,” said Nate Brown, the Executive Director of Pan Africa ILGA in a statement.
“They have been threatened to death by other detainees and continue to be traumatised. This is a hindrance to basic human rights which the two are entitled to without discrimination.”
Cameroon remains one of the African states where homosexuality is illegal. Cameroonian law provides for sentences of up to five years for homosexual activity. The LGBTIQ community regularly faces violence and discrimination.
Pan Africa Ilga cites the cases of three LGBT women – Eva, Marie and Col – who were jailed in Bertoua Central Prison in East Cameroon for over two years; four gay men who were arrested and beaten in Kekem in June last year; and two lesbian women who had to pay a $514 bribe to the police to be released.
“Shakiro and Patricia remain examples of what the LGBTI community continues to face across the African continent,” commented Richard Lusimbo, the Programmes Manager of Pan Africa ILGA. “Discrimination and hatred towards innocent members of our community needs to stop. The state’s fundamental duty remains to respect all forms of human rights and ensure protection of her citizens without fail.”
An online petition addressed to the Government of Cameroon, the Cameroon Human Rights Commission and international bodies has been set up calling for the release of Shakiro and Patricia.