UN calls for investigation into violence against trans women in El Salvador

The United Nations has called for a probe into unprecedented violence against transgender women in El Salvador.

The investigation comes after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded seven trans women being killed in the country so far this year.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for OHCHR, said that the “hate crimes” needed to be investigated.

She said: “We urge the government of El Salvador to take urgent measures to ensure the protection activists and individuals who are under threat”.

Local organisations predict that the death toll is much higher, having recorded 17 murders since the start of the year.

In 2016, the group of organisations recorded 25 murders of transgender females.

The country has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

For every 100,000 residents, 81.7 murders are registered.

Karla Avelar, a transgender activist in the country, told Reuters about threats she has encountered.

The 40-year-old insisted that she had no protection from authorities in her area against gang members who make death threats.

Avelar has been nominated for the Martin Ennals Award and if she wins she could receive prize money. However, the gang, who Avelar did not name, have demanded this money from her.

She explained that she has had to flee her home six times in the past two years because of this.

Avelar said: “Criminals operate within the same institutions of government. So how can you entrust your life to them? How can you entrust your security to these institutions?”

“I won’t wait for them to kill me,” said Avelar. “And how am I going to give them something I don’t even have?” she added.