Amnesty International has put out an urgent appeal on behalf of a Honduran transgender woman who was arrested by the police, beaten up and threatened with death if she reported what happened to her.
The attack on the woman follows the murders of three other transgender women in Honduras since last October.
The women were all working as sex workers near Palmira when they were attacked.
Transgender women who work as sex workers are frequently attacked by clients or police officers. No one has been brought to justice for these killings.
Amnesty International UK LGBT Rights Campaigner Kim Manning-Cooper said:
“Transgender women in Honduras must be terrified right now. Their community is experiencing serious violence and the authorities are not doing enough to protect them.
“If these killings are not thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators brought to justice, then a very clear message is sent that violence against these women is acceptable and can go on without punishment.”
It is alleged that on 20 December 2008 police officers approached the transgender woman (who has asked Amnesty International to withhold her name), who is an HIV/AIDS campaigner and sex worker, in the Palmira district of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
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 police officers then arrested the woman, took her to a police station and then to a health centre to be treated for her wounds. Because she was bleeding the woman informed the officers that she is HIV positive, to which they responded by calling her an “AIDS bitch”. She was then taken back to the police station and released without charge.
The officers threatened her, “if you speak out we will leave you dead in the countryside.” Despite this the woman has filed a formal complaint with the Human Rights section of the Public Prosecutor’s Office about this incident.
Amnesty International believes that the woman’s life is at serious risk and has issued an urgent appeal asking its members to write to the Honduran authorities calling on them to guarantee the woman’s safety and to order swift investigations into all incidents of harassment and killings of transgender people.
Three transgender women have been killed in the last three months while working in the area of Comayagüela, near Palmira. Jazmín Zelaya was killed on 30 October 2008 and her body was found along a road. Another transgender woman was killed on 17 December 2008.
Cintia Nicole Moreno, who was also an activist working for the promotion of the human rights of transgender people, was killed on 9 January 2009 at around 1am. No-one has yet been charged with these murders.