Cameroon | Trans celebrity Shakiro attacked after jail release


Shakiro and Patricia

Just weeks after being released from prison in Cameroon, transgender social media celebrity Shakiro and her friend Patricia have been brutally beaten by a mob.

The women were attacked at around 1 a.m. on 8 August in the city of Douala. The assault was captured on video and posted widely on social media.

Shakiro told Human Rights Watch that their attackers pulled them out of a taxi, insulted and threatened them and beat them for about 30 minutes before fleeing when police intervened.

“I was stripped naked and hit everywhere on my body by several people. I was kicked and slapped. I had to play dead – it was the only way to survive,” she said.

The women have already endured months of transphobic abuse and trauma. They were arrested at a restaurant in February because of the clothes they were wearing. They were imprisoned under appalling conditions and assaulted by inmates and guards.

In May, they were sentenced to five years in prison after being charged with attempted homosexual conduct, public indecency, and non-possession of national identity cards. Last month, they were released on bail pending the outcome of an appeal hearing scheduled for 14 September.

“The attack is a stark reminder that whether or not they are behind bars, transgender people in Cameroon are not free,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Human Rights Watch Senior Central Africa Researcher.

Our Wellbeing Cameroon condemned the incident. “This is a complete violation of the rights to private life, an insult to our constitution and democracy which binds us as citizens and protects us under one fatherland,” said the group. “It is time that we rise up together and say no to violence and the abuse of LGBTQ+ persons.”

According to Human Rights Watch, between February and April this year, security forces in Cameroon arrested at least 27 people, including a child, for alleged consensual same-sex conduct or gender nonconformity, beating and subjecting some to forced anal examinations.

“The government has an obligation to protect all Cameroonians. Authorities should ensure that Shakiro and Patricia get access to justice and act swiftly to repeal the anti-homosexuality law,” said Allegrozzi.

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