top of page

A call to Unite to Demand Justice: Standing in Solidarity with the Tragic Death of Shaina V. Pretel

by Valerie Summers Herrera

Last Monday, February 27, AfroResistance reported on the tragic death of Shaina Vanessa Pretel, which occurred in the early hours of Sunday, February 26, 2023. Shaina was an Afro-descendant trans woman, social leader and community mother, who was part of the women's group of Afroresistance in Cali - Colombia, advocating for the rights of trans women and fighting for protection and economic security for previously incarcerated Black Women. This event left us all, participants and team extremely stunned, because a few hours before the murder, Shaina Vanessa was actively participating in the monthly meeting of the group of Afro-resistant women in Cali, leaving a great void in her community and in our social processes.

At AfroResistencia we consider it important to denounce that the deaths of Black Trans Women, which in most cases, go unnoticed as many times they do not have significant support networks in which their lives gain value and human dignity, which is why they are immersed in multiple scenarios in which their lives and physical integrity are not relevant, which increases the cycles of violence, revictimization and their realities worsen due to institutional abandonment. In other words, the more alone a trans woman is, the more violations of her human rights she will find. Shaina was an example of this; She was a woman who faced injustice in prisons, then on the streets where she was violated to the point that her body could account for the violations she experienced from the deep scars she had obtained throughout her life, scars that will never heal because her life was taken from us as well as that of many black trans women who die in oblivion because they are considered dangerous and disposable subjects by society in general.

It is for this reason that we know that in cases of tragedies or abuses where those affected are poor, vulnerable individuals or communities and subjects segregated and/or erased from the social imaginary, the speed with which action is taken is key to achieving a certain level of justice. and speed in the investigation process, at least to identify perpetrators, since forgetfulness and disinterest are part of the eradication and dehumanization tactics used by governments and elites against said individuals and groups. As soon as we found out about the tragic event, in Afroresistencia we deployed all possible communication tactics so that the information about Shania's murder was made public and visible. This yielded satisfactory results since the Colombian authorities announced that the alleged murderer of Shaina had been captured and the judicial investigation indicated that the motive for the murder had apparently been the result of an act of intolerance, transphobia and discrimination against the gender identity of Shaina.

We know that this will not bring Shaina back to life, but we hope that the advocacy actions that we have spread internationally touch the hearts of society in general and that they contribute to the transformation of the structural conditions that put black trans women in conditions of extremely high inequality, we hope to continue working actively to dignify the bodies and lives of black trans women, but for this we need to join efforts in the future with different organizations, leaders and international organizations that believe in the importance of networking for the lives of black trans women, so that they do not die in oblivion and ostracism to which they have been historically subjected.

It is everyone's task to work so that their lives are not completely eradicated from the social fabric and that they gain value and human dignity!

#sayhername #digansunombre #BlackTransWomen #AfroResistance