Sex workers targeted in drive-by shooting

-accuse cops, public hospital of discriminatory response

Four transgender individuals came under fire in a drive-by attack on Monday night at the corner of King Street and North Road, and a police investigation is now underway after law enforcers initially refused to take statements from the group.

The quartet was shot at with pellets while at the junction plying their trade as sex workers.

Injured in the drive by shooting were Seon Persaud, who is known as Isabella and another individual identified as Nick. Stabroek News was informed by Isabella that she and her three friends were in the vicinity as per normal when the shooting occurred. “I see the bus coming but the light went in my eye so I look away,” she said. “All I know is I hear something go pow pow pow and I start feeling dizzy,” she added.

It was at this point she collapsed and fell to the concrete with her friend Nick, who was also shot. The pellets managed to pierce their skin.

However, the bad night got progressively worse for the four as they rushed to the Brickdam Police Station to lodge a report with the licence plate of the bus only to have the officers at the station shout derogatory remarks at them. According to the sex workers, they were called a number of offensive names not only because of their profession but also because of their sexual orientation. The officers reportedly did not want to take their statements or issue them with medical forms. According to them, it was not the first time violence was used against them and the behaviour of the police officers is typical when they seek to make reports.

After they persisted, an officer eventually took their statements and instructed them to proceed to the Georgetown Public Hospital and to return to the station in the morning.

However, their battle was not yet over. When they arrived at the hospital they were subjected to the same treatment they received at the police station. The hospital staff allegedly behaved in a discriminatory manner and were unwilling to treat the two injured in the group. Once again, the four transgender individuals were forced to wait, this time for someone who was willing to treat them.

When Stabroek News contacted hospital Chief Executive Officer Michael Khan, he said he was not aware of the situation but would launch an investigation. He also stated that he does not condone such behaviour by any hospital staff. “I am very disturbed by this… allegation,” Khan said. “We treat everyone regardless of race, colour or profession.”

Their disturbing experiences angered the group of workers, who said that they are fearful.

They believe that the motive for the crime was the “stigma against homosexuals.”

Stabroek News also made contact with human rights group the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination but it had no comment on the situation, with an official stating that they were unaware of the circumstances surrounding the matter.

Meanwhile, the individuals were informed by the police yesterday that an investigation is now underway and that they are currently tracking the owner of the vehicle.

 

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