Devastated mother of murdered trans woman asked: ‘What happened? What did these boys do, my God?’
The mother of a trans woman who begged for her life before being brutally murdered in a shocking online video has spoken of her horror.
Dandara dos Santos, 42, was taken from her home, beaten, stripped and thrown in a wheelbarrow before being taken away to be killed by a gang of six men.
The terrified woman, who lived in Fortaleza in northeastern Brazil, is seen wiping blood from her face and body in the video while pleading with her attackers to stop.
Her mother, Francisca Ferreira, said on Brazilian TV that she was so distraught when she first heard the news that she could not accept it.
“I was very desperate, crying and asking God what had happened. What did these boys do, my God?
“I became so crazy I could not believe it if there was a fight or not.”
The victim’s sister, Sonia Maria, said Dandara was a selfless friend, always going out of her way to help others, even strangers.
She said: “She never said no. She could be tired, but she was always helpful.
“Wherever we asked her to go, she would. She never said no.”
Dandara had been attacked previously for being trans, Sonia said.
“She went to the Jurema neighbourhood and some guys hit her. She went to the hospital.”
The group of men who attacked Dandara can be seen laughing and cheering in the video as they kick, punch and beat her with shoes and plank of wood.
She begs them to stop, but instead, the men taunt her about her breasts and throw transphobic and homophobic insults at her, telling her in Portuguese that they “will kill the faggot”.
Thankfully the footage, which LGBT groups began spreading online on Friday, has led the police to identify the attackers.
Officers raided homes in the Bom Jardim neighbourhood in Fortaleza yesterday, arresting five men.
André Santos Costa, the secretary of public security in the state of Ceará, told Brazilian news channel Globo that two of the men suspected of shooting Dandara have been arrested.
Three teenagers who appeared in the video have also been arrested, on suspicion of assaulting the victim.
One of the five men, who has been identified as the person who filmed the attack, is also suspected of drug trafficking and was already known to the authorities.
A sixth suspect is still on the run.
An anonymous man who witnessed the attack told Globo that the attack was “a very cruel lynching,”
He said Dandara was punched, beaten and even stoned before she was shot.
“It was several guys,” he said. “One was kicking and another threw a rock.
“Another punched her, and yet another man hit her on the head with a stick.”
He said he called police twice during the attack, but no-one showed up until it was too late.
Authorities said they were unable to trace the caller’s number, and therefore could not confirm if this was true.
Costa reported that after the savage attacks which were filmed, the men “took (Dandara) to another place, near where the images were made.
“She was brutally, cowardly murdered by a gunshot,” he added.
The Government of Ceará has released a statement saying it “hereby expresses its deepest condemnation of acts of violence and intolerance like those committed against Dandara dos Santos, who was killed by brutal beating.”
The video has provided people with a visible reminder of the terrible issues trans Brazilians face, and encouraged some to organise protests.
More than 400 people have joined a Brazilian Facebook group which translates to ‘We Are All Dandara’.
Another group on the site called ‘Justice for Dandara’ has attracted more than 250, with protests being organised in both groups.
Though Brazil legalised same-sex marriage in 2013 and hosts the world’s largest Pride celebration, LGBT attacks are upsettingly common.
A survey earlier this year found that one LGBT person was killed every 25 hours in Brazil throughout 2016.
144 of the victims were trans people, which translated to a hugely disproportional 42 percent of victims.
Far more trans people are killed in Brazil than in any other individual country. Of the 295 trans people killed worldwide between October 2015 and September 2016, 123 were Brazilian.
India, whose population is six times the size of Brazil’s, saw six trans people murdered in the same time period, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring project.
Worldwide attacks on trans people are not slowing down, with two of the 30 people arrested last week for dressing as women in Saudi Arabia reportedly dying in police custody.
Saudi authorities have denied reports that the two victims from Pakistan were “beaten to death” by police, but a Pakistani trans activist rejected this rebuttal.
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Speaking to PinkNews, Qamar Naseem pointed out that the police had already backtracked on earlier denials, adding that authorities would “never” confirm a murder by an officer.
“They have already admitted to the arrest of 30, which they were denying earlier, and they have now confirmed the death of one.
“We don’t expect them to admit to beatings. They will never (do that).”
And at least seven trans women have been killed in the US so far this year – including a horrifying total of four trans black women murdered in just one week.
Activists are blaming the Trump administration, as trans people across the US have become the victims of anti-equality policies introduced by Donald Trump. Click here to sign a petition for the US government to treat trans young people better.
If you believe that there should be tougher sentences for transphobic crimes in Brazil and around the world, please sign this petition.