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Senegal: Homophobic attack No. 7 sends LGBTI activist to hospital

Djamil Bangoura, founder of the Senegalese LGBTI advocacy group Prudence+, is recovering from a seventh homophobic attack — this time an assault on Feb. 10 that required emergency surgery.

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Senegalese LGBTI rights advocate Djamil Bangoura in Dakar’s Ouakam Military Hospital as he recovered from last month’s homophobic attack. (Photo courtesy of Djamil Bangoura)

“It is really sad news,” said Sekou (pseudonym], a fellow LGBT rights activist in Senegal. “Djamil has really done a lot for the LGBT cause. All the leaders are in danger in Senegal.”

“What happened to Djamil could happen to each of us. I have been threatened. We are all threatened” Sekou said. “But what to do? God is great and may our dear Djamil be well.”

As Bangoura continued to recuperate from the surgery, he granted an interview to Moïse Manoel, a reporter from Erasing 76 Crimes and RightsAfrica.

Could you tell us more about the circumstances of your attack?

On February 10, I was traveling on a bus between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., in the area between Keur Massar and Malika Village, on the outskirts of Dakar, returning home. When the bus stopped, a group of three people stepped on board, intending to fight me. They hurled homophobic insults at me. Then came an avalanche of blows. I tried to defend myself. I was beaten with a stick.

One of my attackers exclaimed, “He is the biggest goordjiguen.” [“Goordjiguen” is a pejorative term used to refer to gays in Senegal. It literally means “man-woman”]. Women nearby screamed wildly while an older man tried to intervene, unsuccessfully. I tried to resist and fight back, but three to one, they outnumbered me. A violent kick in the stomach, in the sternum, almost caused me to fall unconscious. I fell to the ground, aware of the blows, but there seemed to be nothing I could do.

Ouakam Military Hospital (Hopital Militaire Oaakam, or H.M.O.) in Senegal (Photo courtesy of Military-medicine.com)

What were the consequences of this attack?

It was mainly a medical response because I was reluctant to report the assault to the police. An ambulance arrived at the scene once the attackers left. I was treated for lesions and skin abrasions. However, the next day, the pain in my abdomen became so intense that doctors placed me under observation at the Ouakam Military Hospital. Soon I needed emergency surgery. After the surgery [with several stitches in his abdomen to close the incision the surgeon had made], the doctors kept me under medical supervision for two days.

Do you want to pursue a legal remedy by filing a complaint?

The incident took place just 500 meters from an understaffed police station late in the afternoon, and although I recognized one of my attackers, I did not want to. One of them commonly hangs out in the neighborhood where I live, and he insults me almost daily. He was probably behind the surveillance that led to the ambush. Maybe he’s familiar with my habits.

Of course, I wasn’t just attacked by chance, nor is this my first physical attack. Since 2006-2007, I have been physically assaulted seven times. To date, none of my complaints have been successful. I still remember the trauma of my first assault, when young people from my neighborhood set fire to my old home. At the time, authorities did nothing to the neighborhood chief nor the imam who sponsored the assassination attempt.

How do you see your future?

I need some more rest at the moment to complete my recovery. In the future, I will need to stay away from the spots where I have spent most of my time to avoid getting caught by the same gang that caused my hospitalization.