Zimbabwean transgender wins in court, receives $25k

A 53-year-old Zimbabwean was awarded 400, 000 Zimbabwe dollars (approximately US$25, 000) by the High Court in Zimbabwe as a compensation for the arrest which had taken place in 2014.

Ricky Nathanson was arrested and detained for 48 hours after using the ladies’ toilet at a hotel in Bulawayo. She was also forced to undress in front of five male police officers to “verify her gender”, and underwent “invasive and humiliating medical physical examination.”

“This case has damaged my career, my life and reputation,” Nathanson admitted then.

After the local magistrates’ court acquitted her, Nathanson turned to the High Court seeking $2.7 million damages for unlawful arrest, illegal detention, malicious prosecution and emotional distress. A Johannesburg-based legal charity, the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), joined her in the battle for the fundamental human rights, freedoms and dignity.

Finally, almost five years later, Supreme Court judge Francis Bere confirmed that Nathanson had actually been deprived of her liberty.

“As if that was not enough, she was subjected to further invasive examination at two different medical institutions all because of her trans-gender status, something that she did not invite upon herself,” he added. “The quantification of damages is not meant to enrich the victim, but to try and salvage some kind of dignity for the pain endured by the victim.

Nathanson, who now lives in the US and works for a human rights organization, welcomed the decision stating it was a great moment for Zimbabwe.

“This is an incredibly life-changing decision. It is,” she declared. “My wish is for society to be more tolerant and where LGBT persons are not in constant fear of being targeted.”

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