Sandra Attacked at Carthage Film Festival for Being Transsexual

Friday 6 December 201902:03 pm
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"هددوني بالقتل"... العابرة جنسياً ساندرا تحكي قصة الهجوم عليها في "أيام قرطاج"

The 30th Carthage Film Festival took place on October 26 in the cultural city in the Tunis, at the festival, which celebrates art and pluralism and highlights cases of oppression and societal ills in hopes of making change, a young Tunisian transsexual woman named Sandra was bullied, “bullying” a new term in the Arabic lexicon can easily be replaced with the words marginalization, attack, insulting, ridicule.

Sandra is one of the heroines of the Tunisian documentary “In the Shadows” (2017) documenting the suffering of some in the LGBT community in Tunisia. She appeared in a revealing black dress with a lace front exposing her underwear and high heeled shoes in which she walked on the red carpet, smiling for the cameras.

In her first interview with the press after appearing in Carthage, Sandra told Raseef22 that she was able to get an invitation to represent Tunisia's sexual minorities and uphold individual freedoms rather than "show off her dress."

She added that the dress "wasn’t that revealing” and it was her first time at the Carthage festival and is unaware of people's taste, saying that her taste “failed her” and she didn’t mean to make a display of her femininity through her dress because she is “completely feminine”.

She pointed out that the problem of her revealing dress,though many artists were wearing far more risque dresses, was the fact that she was transsexual which led many to attack her. She added “I fear for my life, I have received death threats”

She said that Tunisian media, which she described as “shameful” stoked the fires that led to her receiving death threats. She mentioned one journalist Arabiya Hammadi who posted about her on Facebook saying. “We’ve come to a point where a Transsexual comes to the festival half-naked and looking more than disgusting before the cameras and among the microphones of journalists who circle this naked, barefoot person eager to get her words. This is a confirmation that we have sunk low, have sunk to the bottom, and my war against her is justified and this war must continue and with greater viciousness.”

Sandra denounced the "war," announced by the Tunisian broadcaster asking: "Why wage a war?” adding again “I fear for my life” saying she currently does not leave her house and has deactivated her Facebook account temporarily.

When asked if she will seek protection, Sandra replied: "I have no rights. The state and the people will not stand with me because I am a transsexual.”

Sandra blamed the Tunisian media, which is now wooing her to make appearances after “cheap words” were written about her. “They will host me, show me in an unflattering light and provoke me into saying things I don’t want to say.”

Everything is Disastrous

Here are some comments written under Sandra's Facebook photos:

"He must be executed"

"The value of the festival and Tunisian culture have been ruined”

"Everything is disastrous."

"What does this person have to do with cinema?"

“Carthage Scandals”

"It makes me sick."

Other comments, including insults, were also written.

Shams association, an organization dedicated to defending the rights of sexual minorities said in a statement October 27 that the comments directed to Sandra are "Homophobic and Transphobic” emphasizing that “Sandra is an example for hundreds who have no voice to revolt.”

The Association declared its absolute and unconditional support for the young woman, pointing out that “The only nudity that should be uncovered is that of ill minds, not bodies” and these incidents “expose repressed, unjustified and inexplicable violence that is based on ignorance and minds who lag behind in comprehending the universal system of human rights and individual freedoms.”

Commenting on the Dress

In a related context, a Tunisian citizen explained that the comments have nothing to do with Sandra's Transsexuality but with her look saying that “Most people don’t know Sandra or how she uses her genitals.” A tweep said “Because she’s transsexual we have to say wow how nice her dress is? the dress was too small and not pretty.”

The Tunisian director Khaled Sassi criticized the appearance of Sandra on the opening night saying that “The problem is not in her dress but in the organizing committee of the Carthage Film Festival and those responsible for sending invitations that are now being sent to all and sundry without anyone studying the guests.”

Threated with death, Transsexual Sandra recounts the attack on her in Tunisia’s Carthage Film Festival.

He continued: "The real problem lies in the Minister of Culture, Mohamed Zine El Abidine, who does not follow or scrutinize things that he considers simple, but are important to the ministry that oversees this festival, which was one of the best festivals, and is an international festival of international repute."

Right to Attend

The barrage of attacks did not prevent others from expressing more sympathetic opinions, a young Tunisian woman Julia tweeted “Disregarding the dress that provoked public opinion. it’s nobody's right to pass judgement on anyone because we do not know what kind of circumstances they have had in their lives.’

She added “Sandra is the first transsexual to take part in a Tunisian film (it won the bronze prize in the feature documentary category of the festival in 2017) which means it’s her right to attend the festival.”

Sandra or Corruption

Tunisian journalist Lassad Ben Achour asked, "Sandra or corruption?" answering himself: “We chose Sandra.”

In a Facebook post, Ben Achour said that the director of the opening film “The Scarecrow ” Nouri Bouzid confessed to “nepotistic and corrupt practices when it came to support and financing.”

He added: "They were not provoked by the corrupt practices that damaged their own interests but they were provoked by Sandra’s gender and her clothing, while that is individual freedom that does no harm to the interests of Tunisians and did not rob them of their sovereignty or empty their pockets.”

Ben Achour pointed out that there are many segments of Tunisian society that “were not infuriated by the corruption that has ravaged society but have hated on, been jealous of and judged a person from a socially, economically and politically marginalized group.”

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