The Situation in Bamako – Let’s Help Our Sisters November 28, 2018 – Posted in: Collective Well-Being – Tags: Collective Well-Being, LGBTI Activism
Back in September, a friend went home to Guinea in Africa for a visit. Whilst he was there, he sent me a couple of deeply disturbing clips that had been sent to him of what was going on in the capital of Mali, Bamako. They were video footage of two incidents, that can only be described as a public lynching of a transgender woman and a young gay man.
My friend sent me the clips without any forewarning of what was contained in them. In the first clip, the transgender woman had been trapped on the street by a group of men, who then proceeded to strip her of clothing and to then beat her unconscious with tree branches. One of the assailants was the one doing the filming.
Not native to the language that was being spoken in the clip, initially without context, it was hard to comprehend what was about to take place. By the time I caught on it was too late.
Horrified, I contacted my friend to ask what the hell this horror was that he had sent me. He explained it was something that had been sent to him.
He went on to describe to me the second clip which I simply did not have the stomach to watch. Apparently, it caught a young gay man being tied up and stick-ends coated with pepper being shoved up his anus. The description alone was horrific enough. I did not need to see it for myself.
My friend had turned to me looking for help, direction and support in terms of what could be done to save these individuals and prevent such atrocities from happening again. In these very homophobic cultures there is no protection for the LGBTI community. He hoped that by sending it to me I could do something with the platform that I had.
We met and started a discussion as to what could possibly be done. The immediate task was to find a way to reach those caught in these situations and get them to safety. Next we would create resources for others who may be at risk, so that they could find shelter closely within their communities. From there a long term goal was established to bring about change to the cultural attitudes of the region, so that members of the LGBTI community are accepted as members of the wider community deserving of respect, safety and dignity.
So how do we go about creating this? The first step I decided was to create awareness of the situation within the wider global LGBTI community. From there, hopefully ideas and concrete steps could start. The story of the suffering of the LGBTI community in Mali and West Africa should be made public.
Even though I never watched both clips in full, I agonised as to whether posting those clips here would be the right thing to do. I decided that it was not. I was of the opinion: As much as it was necessary to create acute awareness of the horror taking place in the here and now of 2018, it was extremely disrespectful to broadcast the suffering of the victims and to have it be played over and over again indiscriminately across the globe – having them relive what had happened to them. This I felt was not the right way. The perpetrators had purposefully recorded their horrendous acts to have it broadcasted, I would not assist in this.
In past years, the sight of such would have me filled with rage towards the perpetrators. Today, things have changed. It is better to find constructive ways to use that energy, to actually bring about change. Rather than strike in anger, it is better energy spent informing the spirits of the perpetrators that what they do is a crime against their own humanity, while trying to teach them to become advocates to convert others who may hold horrific views on others different from them. Love.
So I put it out there for anyone who has read this. What can we do as a collective to bring about change to what is happening right now in Bamako Mali where members of the LGBTI community are being horrendously attacked. How can we be Love in Action.
Image: The Queen II