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"The Urgency of Now: Incarcerated Black Women and Trans"

Statement Delivered to the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent during the First Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais des Nations, Geneva Switzerland

December 5, 2022


Thank you President,

My name is Valerie. I am a trans woman from Cali - Colombia, and the first Afro-trans woman to be a mother in Colombia and all of Latin America. Additionally, I am the Race and Gender Coordinator for the international NGO Afroresistance, which organizes, advocates, and educates to advance and protect human rights in the Americas.

The process to get to this forum has been loaded with discrimination and prejudices. During my trip, I was asked on several occasions to show my ID to validate my passport as legitimate. For this reason, I affirm that giving black trans women the opportunity to be in scenarios like this is affirmative action in favor of our visibility and political empowerment. Our lives are at constant risk, they continue to kill and persecute us, and it is worrying that we continue to be the minority of the minority in scenarios as important as this.

In our work, we have documented the lack and breach of legal representation for imprisoned Black women and transgender women. We have also documented discriminatory actions during trials; some have been forced to accept charges. In addition, some public defenders use what they know about their cases, making them receive worse sentences than those proposed by the judges and numerous cases of black trans women who received violent treatment against their identities.

Additionally that the necessary activities for their resocialization are not fulfilled, for which reason the passage through prisons has profoundly affected their mental health.

This is why from AFRORESISTANCE, we seek to connect movements to develop strategies that allow transforming the realities of black and trans women in the Americas.

But our work is made difficult by the lack of data on the condition of Black women and femmes in prison or those already on the loose. There is very little data disaggregated by race regarding justice systems. One of the objectives of this forum is to give visibility and elevate Afro-descendant communities, but how will that be possible if there is not enough data about what we are experiencing?

How can we connect activisms and struggles if we do not have funding or sufficient support to reach scenarios like this?

Thank you Madam President

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