The Gender Beat: Two Detained for Murder of Kerala Law Student; Ugandan LGBT Activist Speaks About Being Outed

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality

Cleopatra Kambugu, Ugandan LGBT activist. Credit:

Cleopatra Kambugu, Ugandan LGBT activist. Credit:

Two detained in connection with the torture and rape of Dalit law student in Kerala

A 30-year-old Dalit law student was raped, tortured and murdered in Perumbavoor, Kerala on April 28. She was found dead in her home by her mother, with deep wounds on her body. Her post-mortem report, which confirmed rape and murder, also says that the perpetrators attacked the woman with a sharp object, inflicting grave injuries.

Kerala’s Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala announced a detailed probe into the case and expressed anguish over the incident.

Widespread protests against the murder are being held all over the state, according to The Hindu. Social media has also erupted in protest and appeals for justice for the student.

According to latest reports, two people have so far been taken into custody in connection with the case.

For more information, please read this update.

UP bravery award winner alleges rape by husband, three others

A 28-year-old woman was allegedly raped by her husband and three others on April 29 in the village of Kaptanganj in Uttar Pradesh.

Last year, she had won the Rani Lakshmi Bai bravery award by state government.

She had been living with her parents for the last two or three years.

Bengaluru police nabs alleged molester of 22-year-old north-east woman

On the night of April 23, a 22-year-old woman from the north-east was kidnapped in a south Bengaluru neighbourhood. The kidnapping was caught on CCTV. Several bystanders walked past while the man was kidnapping the young woman, but nobody intervened.

The attacker took the woman to an isolated spot and assaulted her. The woman says she was discouraged from giving a statement to the police by a relative of her paying guest accommodation’s owner. Nevertheless, she lodged a complaint with the police on May 2.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Lokesh Kumar said they had caught the accused on the same day.

Why laws that criminalise buyers of sex only make sex work more dangerous

Alison Bass, author of Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law, argues that laws criminalising clients of sex workers will leave sex workers with fewer negotiating powers and make them more vulnerable to danger. Citing the Swedish model, which criminalises buyers, she writes, “Since 2000, studies show, sex workers there have a much more difficult time negotiating safe sex (i.e. sex with condoms) and assessing dangerous clients. They’ve also lost many low-risk clients, leaving them exposed to more violent clientele — both on the streets and indoors. The irony is that Sweden’s approach has actually increased the overall number of sex workers in that country and did not reduce trafficking in the region at all, according to the Swedish government’s own reports.”

She contrasts the situation in Sweden with what is happening in countries such as the Netherlands and New Zealand, which have decriminalised and regulated sex work, “In decriminalised environments, sex workers are also able to work with colleagues who know where they’re going and who they’re meeting with, an important safeguard – without fear of being arrested.”

Bass also argues that the impulse to criminalise buyers stems from a desire to “rescue” sex workers, an impulse which many sex workers themselves have strongly critiqued.

Auckland transgender woman’s claim of unfair dismissal to be heard

Dakota Hemmingson, a transwoman in Auckland, New Zealand, says she was fired from her job at a hair salon called Barkers Groom Room after she came out to her employers. When she left the company, she was asked to sign a letter that read: “We would like to mutually agree that due to the situation you have presented to us it would be in the best interests of yourself and the business to end your employment with Mensworks and Barkers Groom Room effective immediately.”

Hemmingson took a claim of unfair dismissal to the country’s Employment Relations Authority. Her claim has been cleared and will be heard in the coming months.

“I can’t even put into words how much it hurts that they took [my career] away from me because of who I am. They made me feel I shouldn’t be doing this. It’s the hardest thing to even consider telling someone else you are transgender,” she said.

Ugandan LGBT activist shares story of being publicly outed

Cleopatra Kambugu, transgender Ugandan woman and subject of the documentary The Pearl of Africa told the press about her experience of growing up transgender in Uganda.

“My family took my being transgender as a pathology, as something I shouldn’t talk about openly, as something I shouldn’t be proud about,” she said.

In 2014, after the country’s president signed an anti-homosexuality law, a number of LGBT Ugandans were outed by a tabloid. Kambugu was one of them. Consequently, she was fired from her job and she and her partner were forced to leave the country. They live in Nairobi but hope to return to Uganda one day.

Homophobia leads to five suicides a year: Zimbabwean rights group 

A Gays and Lesbians Alliance of Zimbabwe (GALZ) official named Sylvester Nyamatendedza said that as many as five LGBT Zimbabweans commit suicide every year. A sexual “deviancy” law criminalises the LGBT population of the country.

Nyamatendedza said that ostracisation by families and being forced into heterosexual relationships are among the main reasons for suicide attempts among the LGBT people in Zimbabwe, adding that there is “nothing as painful as dying a social death.”

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