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Coqueta: “Are you a man, are you a woman, what are you?”

CASE STUDY

Coqueta: “Are you a man, are you a woman, what are you?”

FairTrialsAdmin - June 30, 2020

Andrea Correa is Coqueta, a trans woman over 40 who has worked as a sex worker, and who has been for several years an activist and defender of the rights of populations such as homeless people, and trans women who carry out sex work.

For many years, Coqueta has had to face police violence against trans women in Bogotá, so when she says that the situation with the police has worsened for trans women since the quarantine began, she knows very well what she is talking about.

Even though the decree ordering the Pico y Genero made it clear that the police was not allowed to request IDs, Coqueta says that this was not the case in practice. Coqueta assures that she had problems when going out to do the necessary errands for her survival, not only with the police, but also with store guards and guards at the entrance of supermarkets and supply stores. The most violent episode happened in a bank at the Veinte de Julio neighbourhood in Bogotá, on a day when women were allowed to mobilize. This was a day Coqueta had the right to go out. "I was standing in line, there were about 10 people and a police officer approached me and asked: “what is the lady doing here?" Coqueta explained to him that she had to solve some banking needs, and when the policeman heard her voice, he became upset and immediately took her out of the line. "But what are you?" Asked the policeman. "Are you a man, or a woman, or what are you?" After this, the police asked Coqueta for her identity card to verify her identity, something that he was not allowed to do under the decree.

Knowing her rights, Coqueta refused to show her ID, and tried to record him. The policeman responded by physically assaulting her and challenging her to record what was happening. But the aggression was not even what outraged her the most. “The worst thing of all was the shame I felt in front of the people. (...) The mockery, the joke was always present, it was something very humiliating.”

This has not been the only episode of police violence that Coqueta has had to experience during the quarantine, since she assures that on two other occasions she has been stopped and searched by male police officers, when officially the due process is that a trans woman should only be searched by a female officer. The two times that she has resisted these searches, they falsely accused her of carrying drugs.

Coqueta also assures that the persecution of sex workers in the street during the quarantine has increased up to two and three times in the city, a situation that she compares to what sex workers lived through during the 1980s. Coqueta claims that this persecution began to flare up during Pico y Género, but that it has continued after the measure. “They tell us that we cannot do it on the street, but then where do we do it? What do we live on?! You have to go out to work, I’m the bread winner “protests Coqueta, who also assures that sex workers are being evicted from their homes for lack of payment with the help of the police, something that the presidency prohibited due to the emergency.

Since the abuse she suffered by the police at the bank, Coqueta was traumatized, and she is no longer going out. Someone helps her with her errands, as she waits for violence against trans people to decrease in the streets, something that does not seem likely to happen anytime soon.

"It didn't just happen to me, it happened to several girls," she says. “Many girls stopped going out and shopping for the same reason. (...) Even with female police officers it is the same, they are very abusive, when they search us, they say things like: ‘I am not going to touch -that.-’”

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

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