TDoR 2006 / 2006 / February / 22 / Gisberta Salce Junior

Gisberta Salce Junior

Age 45

22 Feb 2006
Porto, Norte (Portugal)
Tortured and drowned

TDoR list ref: Feb 2006/Gisberta Salce Junior

Gisberta Salce Junior
Gisberta Salce Junior [photo:]

Gisberta was tortured by a group of 14 teenagers from St. Jos Center ("a strict Catholic school for boys"). She ultimately died by drowning after they threw her into a pit of water.

"According to the case, they told the others that they knew a "man" with "tits" and that "he looked like a woman". That's how 14 boys got together, eager to meet the transsexual, and the abandoned building became a rendezvous point - and some of the teenagers started attacking Gisberta.

As of February 15, 2006, they began to group together to commit multiple acts of violence against women who were beaten, raped and humiliated over three days, with stones, beatings - the pieces of wood were also used to rape her - and cigarette burns.

Between 21 and 22 of the same month, the young people returned to the place and found the Brazilian unconscious. Believing she was dead, they thought of ways to disappear with her body and threw her into the pit of the building, filled with water. She was unconscious, but alive, and died drowned.

One of the students confessed the crime to a teacher and the body was discovered the same day. The case quickly made the news, which treated Gisberta in the male and extremely derogatory way.

Gisberta was a Brazilian immigrant who lived in Porto. A transgender, homeless woman, living illegally in Europe, she had left Brazil for France at the age of 18 to escape a wave of murders in Sao Paulo that victimized trans people.

Of her attackers, only one was over 16 years old and could be criminally punished, Vitor Santos (who according to his colleagues, did not attack the victim, only observed the others) was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment for the crime of omission of aid. The others were sentenced to 13 months in the Educational Center; by September 2007 all were already free.

Frustration with the outcome of the trial led to an intense mobilisation by activists who adopted Gisberta as a symbol of transphobia ande won protective laws for trans people in Portugal. For example, since 2011, it has been possible for trans people to rectify their documents without the need for surgeries.

Even 15 years after her death, Gisberta was still being deadnamed by the media.

The use of the “dead name” and gender inconsistencies in news about transgender people persists. 15 years after hertragic death, Gisberta underwent this treatment [again] yesterday. It is therefore important to understand what the “dead name” is and how it is harmful to trans people.

Gisberta's story later became a play, a documentary and the song Balada de Gisberta, composed by the Portuguese Pedro Abrunhosa and played by Maria Bethânia. A street was also named after her.

In March 2021 an online petition to name a street in Porto after Gisberta was launched. Just over a year later, it happened.

In February 2006, Gisberta Salce Júnior, a 45-year-old HIV positive Brazilian [trans woman] and [sex worker], was assaulted and raped by 14 teenagers for several days and found dead in a 15-meter well. The tragic episode shocked the city and caused the country to debate intolerance and hatred against homosexuals, but also issues related to transphobia and gender equality.

Fifteen years later, the Organizing Committee of the Porto Pride March (COMOP), an organization founded to combat the oppression to which LGBTI + people are subjected, considers that "it is time to recognize and honor the life of Gisberta Salce Júnior".

This Wednesday, they launched an online petition to the Commission of Toponymy, created together with actress and activist Sara Barros Leitão, which proposes that one of the streets of the city be named Gisberta, considering this “a giant step towards representation , as well as a source of pride for the city of Porto”. "The initiative aims to promote a reflection on how we can make Porto a more inclusive city and how we can combat the oppression to which LGBT + people are subjected", reads a statement.,%20Portugal.html

Report added: 3 Dec 2018. Last updated: 8 Oct 2022

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