Three trans women were violently attacked in Benin, West Africa, on April 30, prompting Amnesty International to urge local authorities to improve protections for LGBTQ+ citizens. Kani, Fati and Jennifer told the human rights organisation that they were invited to a bar by an acquaintance as a trap, with one saying: “Our ‘friend’ asked Fati to join him outside the bar. She then realised that he was no longer waiting for her outside. Two men started assaulting Fati and stealing her belongings after asking her if she was a man or a woman.”
She continued: “They had started taking pictures of us. Then they threatened to undress us. They forced us to pull off our clothes. I screamed to ask them to take us to the police station, but they kept hitting me, then I tried to defend Fati, and someone hit me on the neck with a bottle of beer. During all this time, people were filming and photographing us…Finally, we were able to escape thanks to the taxi-motorcycle drivers.’’ Videos of the incident later surfaced on social media, and the three women have been taken in by a local trans advocacy association.
LGBTQ+ rights groups across Benin have shown support for the women, but have subsequently received threats, with the president of one organisation telling Amnesty that she received death and rape threats after publicly denouncing the attack. Following the events, Fabien Offner, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher, said: “This assault on three transgender women must prompt the authorities to take stronger measures to protect transgender and intersex people – as well as all the human rights defenders that speak out for them.”
They added: “They must also ensure victims of such violations have access to the help they need to ensure they live in a safe environment. The perpetrators of this assault must also be identified and prosecuted.”