From Amnesty International UK comes the story of a woman, transgender sex worker and HIV/AIDS campaigner (unnamed for her own safety) in Honduras, who was assaulted by police officers and threatened with death if she spoke out about the attack:
Four police officers in a police car approached the transgender woman, who has asked Amnesty International to withhold her name, at about 12.40am on 20 December 2008 in the Palmira district of the capital, Tegucigalpa. She was working as a sex worker at the time. The police officers tried to rob her but, when she resisted, they grabbed her by the hair and repeatedly smashed her head against a nearby window, breaking the glass. She received numerous cuts to her face and knees.
The officers then said that they were arresting the woman for breaking a window in order to gain forcible entry to private property. The officers took her to the local police station, and then to a local health centre to be treated for her wounds. Since she was bleeding, she informed the officers that she was HIV positive and the officers replied by saying “AIDS bitch, people like you should be in a separate place” (perra sidosa, gente como Ustedes tiene que estar en un lugar aparte) While on their way, the officers also told her “if you speak out, we will leave you dead in the countryside” (si hablas, te dejaremos muerta en el monte). She was taken back to the police station and was released without charge at around 11.30am. She has recently filed a formal complaint with the Human Rights section of the Public Prosecutor’s Office about this incident.
Just to be trans, just to be a woman, just to be a person of color in this country is enough to drastically increase one’s exposure to hatred and violence; when oppressions overlap, violence tends to multiply.
The context here is somewhat different, but to paraphrase Jack now, we do know that to be a woman, to be trans, to be a sex worker, and to be HIV positive pretty much anywhere is to increase one’s exposure to hatred and violence. And yes, when oppressions overlap, the rates of violence increase.
We don’t know with certainty for which of the above reasons this woman was attacked: one, many or a combination of all of the above. (My guess? All but the last, unless they knew who she was, in which case all.) But we do know with a pretty damn solid certainty that it was at least one.
This kind of violence is never acceptable, especially coming from police. It is even less so when marginalized members of our society, as they usually are, are the ones specifically sought out in this kind of violence. And as Amnesty International notes in this materials, this is not an isolated incident. Just like in the U.S., transgender sex workers are assaulted and murdered far too often in Honduras. And police specifically have a reputation for assaulting transgender sex workers.
Click here to send appeals to the Honduran authorities urging that they guarantee the safety of the woman who was attacked. It will only take a moment of your time, and it is surely worth that.
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