Three videos filmed by assailants on 1 May 2021 at the ‘Sunset bar’ in Benin, a West African nation showed the women being stripped, humiliated, and beaten by more than 200 men.
The videos that since went viral while circulating on Facebook, showed the naked trans women’s genitals. Those videos have since been removed but the damage has been done.
A 22-second clip excerpt of the original video was shared on Twitter by TransValid, a transgender media account from the UK. It shows the women being subjected to brutal humiliation in front of a barroom filled with men who force them to take their tops off exposing their breasts.
France 24 Observers spoke to the victims, who are now safe in a shelter that specifically caters to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. Their story highlights the widespread discrimination against transgender people in Benin, which has escalated during the pandemic.
One of the victims told Observers that it had been a setup. “My man knew I was transgender and asked me to invite my transgender friends. When we arrived, he asked me to go outside”, she said, before breaking into tears and letting her friend, one of the other victims, take over.
They blocked two of us in the bar while our friend was outside and before we knew it, everyone started hitting her. They even threw a bottle on the back of her neck. Once we managed to get outside to help our friend, they began attacking the three of us. There were about 200 men there, and they forced us to strip naked while they laughed and filmed us. It was humiliating.
THE HELL TRANS PEOPLE GO THROUGH IN AFRICA https://t.co/tkjPZJNlew
— TransValid (@TransValid) May 6, 2021
TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE PARTIAL NUDITY
After the attack, the trans women managed to escape and find safety in a shelter set up by the NGO Hirondelle Club Benin, which defends LGBTQ rights. A complaint has been filed with the police on behalf of the three women.
“We have referred this case to the prosecutor of the Cotonou court,” said a spokesperson from the NGO Hirondelle Club Benin. “We demand justice for these horrible and inhumane acts, and we will not give up until justice is served.”