A violent mob sexually assaulted, beat, threatened, and humiliated a 27-year-old intersex person in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, reports Human Rights Watch.
The perpetrators filmed the 15 November attack, which lasted for several hours, in two horrific videos which were circulated on social media.
According to medical reports issued by a health facility, the victim Sara (not her real name) suffered severe bruising all over her body. Sara’s doctor said that she needed monitoring for 15 to 18 days due to the severity of her injuries.
Human Rights Watch said that police arrested one man in connection with the attack but released him 48 hours later.
On 16 November, Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS), an LGBTI human rights organisation, filed a complaint with the police on behalf of Sara as a victim of assault, battery, and inhuman and degrading treatment. The group is providing medical and psychological assistance to Sara.
Sara was so shocked and severely traumatised, that a few days later she attempted suicide. “We found her unconscious in the bathroom beside a bottle of bleach. We called the doctor. She is under observation,” said a CAMFAID activist.
Human Rights Watch documented another brutal mob attack in August against two transgender women, Shakiro and Patricia, in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital. The attack occurred just weeks after a court had ordered the women’s release from prison pending their appeal of a five-year sentence on arbitrary “homosexuality” charges.
2021 has seen an uptick in police action against LGBTI people in Cameroon. Between February and April, security forces 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 in detention; recognised as a form or ill-treatment or torture.
According to Human Rights Watch, the authorities have yet to make a public statement on Sara’s attack.
“Their silence over this high-profile incident of senseless violence against an LGBTI victim risks sending a message of tolerance for such abuse and highlights the government’s failure to protect LGBTI Cameroonians,” commented Ilaria Allegrozzi, the organisation’s Senior Central Africa Researcher
“Police should urgently respond to CAMFAID’s complaint, investigate the attack against Sara, and bring those responsible to justice. They should also ensure the safety of LGBTI activists who are doing crucial work in a climate of intimidation and violence,” said Allegrozzi.
Cameroon remains one of the African states where homosexuality is illegal. Cameroonian law provides for sentences of up to five years for homosexual activity.