The violent murder of a prominent
transgender rights activist in Honduras has left the transgender
community stunned and terrified.
Cynthia Nicole, a prominent transgender
rights activist, was fatally wounded by three shots in the chest and
one in the head in a violent drive-by shooting in the district of
Barrio Guaserique in Comayaguela during the early hours of January 9.
Her death comes on the heels of two
additional killings against transgender sex workers in the Central
American country. Yasmin was attacked and killed on November 20, and
Noelia was stabbed to death on December 17.
Human Rights Watch, a group dedicated
to defending the rights of racial, economic and sexual minorities
around the world, is calling on Honduran authorities to fully
investigate these murders.
Transgender rights watchers in the
country, however, report authorities do not protect the rights of
“Impunity compounds the violence,”
said Juliana Cano Nieto, a researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “If
authorities fail to investigate attacks, victims have no reason to
report them – and are ready targets for reprisals.”
Violence against the transgender
community in Honduras has been rising for years. In addition to the
three murders, three violent attacks were reported during the
November-December time frame. On November 21, Bibi, another
transgender sex worker, was shot while working in a park in the city
of Comayaguela. And two transgender rights activists were attacked
on December 20 while doing HIV/AIDS outreach work in the Honduran
capital of Tegucigalpa.
Nicole, 32, was a transgender rights
leader who worked as a spokesperson for the transgender rights
organization Colectivo Violeta. She provided information about
HIV/AIDS and human rights, and often represented the community in the
media, according to Human Rights Watch.
“Cynthia Nicole fought tirelessly to
secure basic rights protections for trangender sex workers,” Cano
said in a statement.
“The transgender community is
terrified,” said Indyra Mendoza, who heads Cattrachas, a lesbian
and feminist organization. “But these attacks will not silence the
community in Honduras, and we will continue to work to ensure that
the rights of transgender people are recognized and protected.”
“The authorities need to find and
prosecute the perpetrators of this and previous attacks against the
trans community,” Cano said.