Activists across the country are demanding the immediate release of Marichuy Leal Gamino, a transgender woman raped in the men's immigration prison where she has been detained for more than a year.
According to Equality New Mexico, Gamino was placed in a for-profit private detention center in Arizona on an order from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Throughout the detention, Gamino has endured sexual harassment, bullying and threats of violence, according to EQNM. She reported the abuse to an officer at the detention center, who allegedly ignored her complaints.
Equality New Mexico says the abuse escalated. A cellmate sexually assaulted Gamino earlier this summer. When she reported the rape to authorities, they pressured her into signing a statement that the sexual activity was consensual, according to EQNM.
In a statement released by EQNM, Gamino's mother said, “I want ICE to understand the harm they’re causing and let her go so she can be home with me. ICE knows they are responsible for her safety but they let this happen. I wish that ICE officials would put themselves in my shoes, as a mother. How would they feel if someone they loved were in this position? Anger isn’t enough to express what I feel. We need her home.”
The Human Rights Campaign, in a statement in late July, said, "HRC is very concerned about Marichuy’s safety. This must be the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) overriding priority. One way to help achieve that would be for her to be housed in facilities consistent with her gender identity. According to the University of California Irvine’s Center for Evidence-Based Corrections, transgender women in men’s prisons are 13 times more likely to be sexually abused as other inmates."
ICE, in a statement to the press, said it had received an allegation of a sexual assault and referred it to the appropriate authorities. "ICE has a strict zero tolerance policy for any kind of abusive or inappropriate behavior in its facilities and takes any allegations of such mistreatment very seriously," the statement said.
On the Web …
The petition can be found at: http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/portfolio/marichuy/
Editor's note: WiG's policy is to withhold the names of sexual assault victims. However, in this case, Gamino is working with civil rights and immigration rights advocates, who are asking people to petition the government on her behalf.