(WB) A violent mob in Cameroon earlier this week attacked two transgender women after their release from prison.
Human Rights Watch reports that the mob attacked Patricia and Shakiro at around 1 a.m. on Aug. 8 in Douala, the country’s economic capital. The attackers forced them out of a taxi, “insulted and threatened them with death,” and beat them for half an hour until they fled after police officers arrived at the scene.
“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,” Shakiro told Human Rights Watch.
Patricia and Shakiro have since filed a police report in an effort to locate their attackers and have them brought to justice.
Working For Our Wellbeing, a local LGBT advocacy group, posted a statement on Facebook in support of Patricia and Shakiro.
“Sexual and gender minorities are at high risk in Cameroon. The LGBTIQ+ community remains at the [brink] of … violence. 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,” reads the statement.
“We are all citizens and [on] no occasion should a particular group of individuals feel entitled or that everyone should act or be like them. No one owns the monopoly of power [or] violence. This is a republic, not a system of anarchy,” added the statement.
Patricia and Shakiro in February were arrested for wearing women’s clothing and charged with attempted homosexuality, public indecency and failing to possess an identification card. Trans people in Cameroon commonly travel without ID cards because the sex marker on them is different from their gender presentation.
Human Rights Watch says inmates and prison guards beat, insulted and threatened Patricia and Shakiro during their incarceration.
The women in May were sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 200,000 CFA ($370).
A judge on July 16 ordered their release and an appeal to their case is expected to be heard in September.
Alice Nkom, the first French-speaking woman admitted to the Cameroon Bar Association and a fierce defender and advocate for the rights and protections of sexual and gender minorities in the country, represents Patricia and Shakiro.