A video showing a group of men whipping a woman who apparently turned down their advances has been circulating like wildfire on social media in Chad. The video was uploaded on February 16, though it was filmed sometime last year in the west of the country. The men in the video are all enlisted members of the National and Nomadic Guard, one of four defence and security forces in Chad. According to a Chadian journalist who investigated this video, this woman was whipped after she said no to one of the men, who had propositioned her. The journalist says this is far from the first incident of its kind.
The video shows three men whipping a woman, who is squatting on the ground. The men’s faces are obscured by scarves. They are wearing a mix of camouflage and civilian clothes.
You can hear them say, "Don’t aim for her head!” and "Why isn’t she crying? Why isn’t she shouting?”.
One of them addresses her: "Why did you go into the woods? You are bringing tramol [Editor’s note: the nickname for tramadol, a drug that is widely sold in sub-Saharan Africa] into town!”
“No, no, I swear that I don’t do that kind of work,” the woman replies.
Screengrabs of the video circulating on social media.
"The woman told me that she was bedridden for six months after this beating"
Wal Moussa Achitela (not his real name) is a Chadian journalist who investigated this video for the news site TchadInfos.com. He’s using a pseudonym because he is afraid of reprisals from other members of the National and Nomadic Guard.
When I saw this video on social media, my first thought was that it had probably been filmed in Lac province. I recognised the whitish soil and the style of shelter that you can see in the background. I know this region well so I reached out to my contacts there to try and identify the victim as well as the exact location where the incident took place.
Several people pointed me towards a 28-year-old woman. When I called her, she confirmed that she was the person in the video and that the incident had taken place eight months ago in Tchoukou Talia, in the Kaya department, in Lac province. Other residents also confirmed to me that she was the woman in the video. She told me that she had been bedridden for six months after the beating.
She told me that the perpetrators of the attack were members of the National and Nomadic Guard (GNNT) who were based in the area. To verify that, I asked her to tell me the colour of the berets that members of the GNNT wear. She said grey, which is correct. Moreover, in the video, you can see a vehicle with what looks like the GNNT motif on the side.
The woman said that one of the men in the GNNT had propositioned her but that she had refused. So they accused her of trafficking drugs and used that as an excuse to whip her. They also tortured her in the water.
She told me that she isn’t the only woman to have been accused of dealing drugs and brutalised after refusing to sleep with one of the guardsmen. She also said that guardsmen have another strategy-- sometimes, they will accuse the husbands of the women they desire of dealing drugs and imprison them. Then, they can usually pressure the women into sleeping with them as a way to free their husbands. I had already heard of this happening in the area.
Since February 18, a second video of a beating has also been circulating on social media. This video shows several people beating a man, who is thought to be a domestic worker. This incident may have occurred in the capital, N’Djamena, though our team was not able to independently verify its location.
People have reacted to these videos in shock and anger. Two prominent Chadian rights groups, Voix de la femme, and the Chadian Convention for the Defence of Human Rights (Convention tchadienne pour la défense des droits humains) have condemned the videos.
The authorities have also reacted.
Justice Minister Djimet Arabi said that he had instructed prosecutors to identify the perpetrators in the two videos, saying it was “unacceptable” for this kind of violence to occur in Chad.
"The perpetrators […] must be held responsible for their actions in court.”
N’Djamena’s Attorney General said that the minister had also called for investigations to be opened into these incidents. Finally, the head attorney in Bol, the capital of Lac province, told RFI that the men in the video had been identified as members of the GNNT.
In late December, another grisly video emerged on social media in Chad. This one showed a man being tortured to death under the supervision of a police colonel, who was later arrested.
>> READ ON THE OBSERVERS: Torture video leads to arrest of police colonel in Chad
This article was written by Chloé Lauvergnier (@clauvergnier).