Five charged with murdering transgender sex worker who was reportedly trying to stop a robbery
Five suspects have been charged with murdering a transgender sex worker who was attempting to stop them stealing her client’s car, according to reports.
Vanesa Campos, 36, was shot dead on the night of August 16 in Bois de Boulogne, a park in western Paris, prompting a massive backlash from sex workers and activists.
Trans people are targeted for violence all over the world, with 16 having been murdered in the US in 2018 alone.
On Friday (August 24), hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the French capital, holding white rose and signs that read: “Justice for Vanesa” and chanting: “Trans murder, the state is complicit,” AFP has reported.
Campos’s colleagues, Laura and Maria, told Libération that at 11pm on the night of her murder, they heard their friend screaming from the woods.
Laura said: “She shouted to warn us that a group of armed men has arrived in her work area. At that moment, we were a large majority already busy with our customers, but we all ran to help her.
“That’s when we heard a first shot.”
Terrified, they ran from the scene. Maria said: “I do not even remember where I hid. But I remember praying for all the girls to be out of danger. I naively thought that Vanesa had managed to escape in time.”
Less than an hour later, Laura, Maria and the other sex workers found the naked dead body of Campos, who had travelled to Paris from Peru in 2016 to start a new life in Europe and send money back to her family.
Campos’s friends said her death was the culmination of a long-running feud between thieves and sex workers in the area.
One of her co-workers, Nicky, said: “There were two or three men almost every night who would come to steal cars from our customers while they were with us.
“They managed to create a climate of terror.”
The sex workers fought back, they said, protecting their clients – until it cost Campos her life.
Laura condemned the authorities, saying: “From the beginning, I said that it would take a death for the police to finally move.”
Others have laid blame at the feet of a piece of legislation in 2016 which criminalised the hiring of a sex worker, making it punishable with a fine of €1,500 (£1,350).
Giovanna Rincon, who leads trans activism group Acceptess-T, said: “The law is 100 percent responsible for Vanesa’s death.”
She called for “real measures to fight transphobia.”
There is widespread anger over a perceived lack of outrage from officials about trans murders, with the French union of sex workers (STRASS) saying in a statement: “We have in us this strange impression that our dead do not cause any emotion.
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“For us, there is never national mourning. There is never an official commemoration,” the statement continued.
“The murders of trans women sex workers are not rare,” it added. “Our dead are normalised. A whore who dies is a bit like a video game character that kills; it does not matter.
“It’s like a sexist joke – we laugh about it, then we move on.”
Last year, it was revealed that “at least” 75 percent of trans people living in Malta were turning to sex work in order to fund hormone treatments.
Singaporean trans woman Sherry SherQueshaa turned to sex work after a series of employers turned her down because of her gender identity, before deciding to work towards improving employment opportunities and reducing discrimination towards trans people.