[Trigger warning: rape, transphobia]
A Guatemalan asylum-seeker is fighting to avoid deportation in Denmark.
Fernanda Milan was horrifically mistreated upon her arrival at the Danish refugee camp Centre Sandholm. Her hormone treatments were suspended and she was placed in the male wing of the camp. She ran away after being gang raped by several men who forced their way into her room, and was then trafficked to a brothel before finally being offered support by anti-trafficking organisation Reden International.
But Fernanda faces worse should she return to Guatemala. Trans people in the Central American country face violent murder at the hands of vigilantes and the police. Trans activist Johana Ramirez, of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Transgender People, estimates that the average life expectancy of trans people in Guatemala is 25. Oppressive “Christian” moral values are reinforced by the powerful Roman Catholic Church.
Danish authorities don’t take transphobia seriously. Fernanda was told by police to accept personal responsibility for her rape because she “chose” to be trans. The Danish Red Cross – who run Centre Sandholm – appear to deny all responsibility for the incident. “Basically a transgender woman is likely to be placed in a male dormitory but in a single room. But we would not place her in a women’s dormitory because that is definitely for women, where cannot permit ourselves to place a man.” says Red Cross head of asylum Anne La Coeur.
Denmark does not recognise gender identity as grounds for asylum, meaning that Fernanda now faces deportation on Monday 17 September. Denmark, along with the UK and Ireland, opted out of the new EU directive on asylum that includes gender identity.
“What I’m most afraid of when I go back, isn’t being killed. What really petrifies me is being attacked and tortured,” says Fernanda.
This shocking miscarriage must justice must not go ahead.
You can take action to support Fernanda by signing this petition.
(Petition is in Danish: Fornavn = 1st name, Efternavn = Surname, By = Town/city. For country select “Storbrittanien” if you are a UK citizen living in the UK)
There is also a protest taking place outside the Danish Embassy in London on Monday 10th September.