On Dec 8, 2015 the UNHCR reported: TAPACHULA, Mexico – With red hair, carefully made up and dressed in feminine attire, Neila stood out in the gang-ravaged El Salvador neighbourhood where she was born a man.
She put up with the taunts, jeers and insults over her gender identity for years, but it was a fourth savage knife attack that finally drove the 26-year-old beautician to flee for her life.
“This is all because my gender identity differs from what is traditional,” said Neila, who was stabbed 58 times in the attacks, which left her with a necklace of scarring around her throat and slash wounds to her arm.
Now living in a shared room in this city in southern Mexico, she is among a growing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from Central America’s so-called “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who are fleeing assaults and harassment for safety in neighbouring countries.
Between January 2013 and March 2014, at least 594 people who were either LGBTI or were perceived to be so, were killed across the Americas, while another 176 were victims of serious physical assaults, according to a study by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
In Honduras, LGBTI activists have reported at least 190 murders in the last five years. In Neila’s native El Salvador, meanwhile, the non-profit “Entre Amigos” reported that 11 LGBTI people were murdered in 2008, 23 in 2009 and 10 in 2010. Corpses frequently showed signs of assault, torture and rape.