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Donors free trans woman from jail in Cameroon, help her in new career

C., the trans woman in eastern Cameroon who is being helped by this blog’s Not Alone Project, has been released from prison early and is preparing for training as a hairdresser, a career that she hopes will replace the income she previously earned as a sex worker.


From the African Human Rights Media Network


Cameroonian trans woman C., newly released from prison, must often dress as a man for her safety. For the same reason, her face is not shown here. (Photo courtesy of 2HRC)

C. had been sentenced to a year in Bertoua Central Prison for dressing as a woman. Her sentence was due to end last month but she had no money to pay the fine of 106,000 Central African francs (about $176) that the judge imposed during sentencing last year.

She was scheduled to remain in the Bertoua prison until November in order to pay that debt. Instead, generous donors paid her fine, so she completed her sentence on time in July.

A local hairdresser in Bertoua has agreed to train C. in a new career. The costs of that hairdressing training are being paid from readers’ donations.

The Not Alone Project of the Erasing 76 Crimes blog works with donors and Cameroonian LGBTQ rights advocates to help imprisoned LGBTQ people in Cameroon — people who are in prison for no reason except being found guilty of violating the nation’s anti-homosexuality law.

In other related activity supported by the Not Alone Project, members of the local LGBTQ advocacy group 2HRC on Aug. 6 visited M. and E., the two remaining lesbian prisoners in Bertoua Central Prison. They are still awaiting the end of their two-year sentences, scheduled for September. Because Cameroonian prisons are dirty, crowded, and provide inmates with meager amounts of food, the visitors from 2HRC deliver to the prisoners a variety of food and hygiene items paid for by the Not Alone Project’s donors.

On an earlier visit, the 2HRC visitors learned that M. needed eyeglasses. A doctor had prescribed them for her but she had no money to pay for them. Earlier this summer, a donor to the Not Alone Project contributed the $146 cost of the eyeglasses, which M. modeled for her visitors on Aug. 6.

In addition, on that day M. and E. were each given 10,000 Central African francs (about $18) for the purchase of perishable food, which is on sale at the prison, and for sanitary napkins, which the prison does not routinely provide.

This design of three women behind bars represented the three prisoners at Bertoua Central Prison who have been helped by the Not Alone Project.

More articles about the Not Alone Project:

The work in Bertoua is the third phase of the Not Alone Project. Information about the previous two phases of the project is below.

Images representing the three gay prisoners in northern Cameroon who were freed early through the work of the Not Alone / Pas Seul project and its donors.
Images representing the three gay prisoners in northern Cameroon who were freed early through the work of the Not Alone / Pas Seul Project and its donors.

Articles about Phase 2 of the Not Alone / Pas Seul Project in northern Cameroon (2019):

Click on the image to provide food for 3 emaciated prisoners whose only crime is being gay.Images representing the three gay prisoners in Yaounde whose only crime was being gay. Through the Not Alone / Pas Seul project, they received much-needed deliveries of food and hygiene supplies.

Articles about Phase 1 of the Not Alone / Pas Seul Project in Yaoundé (2018):

More context:

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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