Horror parents: US legalises gay marriage; India yet to acknowledge corrective rape in families

This cruel form of ‘corrective rape’ has its moorings, as per the available records, in South Africa, where it was perpetrated by the family members of lesbians or gays. The goal is to punish the “abnormal” behaviour.

hidden June 28, 2015 09:56:22 IST
Horror parents: US legalises gay marriage; India yet to acknowledge corrective rape in families

By Tarique Anwar and A Saye Sekhar

Delhi/Hyderabad: It was supposed to be a normal summer vacation for school boy Himadri. He was happy to be home among parents and friends. He didn’t mind when his parents asked him to spend time at a relative’s place in a distant village. Then the horror unfolded. He was sexually assaulted repeatedly at the relative’s place. The knowledge that his father had asked for it was worse than the mental and physical trauma he had to undergo after the experience.

Now better known as Dr Himadri Roy, Associate Professor at the School of Gender and Development Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, he said he was subjected to what is being called ‘corrective rape’ these days. “My father knew about my sexual behaviour but my mother was unaware of it. I was sent to the relatives place to get ‘cured’. When I returned, I described the ordeal before my mother. She supported and encouraged me to go ahead with my choice,” Roy told Firstpost.

Horror parents US legalises gay marriage India yet to acknowledge corrective rape in families

Screengrab from YouTube.

In India, he said, the practice of corrective rape is rampant, but surprisingly not discussed much. “When I discussed my experience with my friends I found most of them had suffered the same treatment in childhood. It is not much visible in India because the affected persons generally do not come forward. Either they run away from their homes or kill themselves. Victims also refrain from taking legal recourse because the perpetrators are their parents and the accused are often their cousins and sometimes even mothers,” he said.

A lesbian girl, who requested not to reveal his identity, revealed she was raped by one of her paternal cousins to ‘correct’ her sexual orientation.

“I belong to a conservative family of Kerala. When my parents told me that I would be married to my paternal cousin, I refused and told them I am not interested in men. At that time, I was 19. I was tortured and abused for a long time. One day, I was raped by my cousin and would-be husband when I was sleeping. It was done with the consent of my parents. I was beaten up by them when I resisted and cried. I was constantly pressured to marry him but when they failed in their effort, they used force to get me married to him. Left with no option, I fled home and am earning my living by working in a BPO in the national capital,” she told Firstpost.

Deepthi Tadanki, who has embarked on a movie project - Satyavati - dealing with the issue, said she has stumbled upon several such instances which actually triggered the idea of making a film on this delicate subject. Deepthi has highlighted this among other hard facts in a YouTube fundraiser video for crowdsourcing the necessary funds required to complete the movie.

This cruel form of ‘corrective rape’ has its moorings, as per the available records, in South Africa, where it was perpetrated by the family members of lesbians or gays. The goal is to punish the “abnormal” behaviour. An American researcher Clare Carter has photographed over 45 victims of ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa and chronicled their sordid stories since 2011, according to The Independent.

A transgender activist in Hyderabad, Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, told Firstpost that at least 15 cases of corrective rape have come to the knowledge of those working with the LGBT communities in the last five years. The cases have seen the light of the day, just because the victims have sought the help of the community to rescue them from their homes and liberate from the torture.

Out of the 15, four cases were of lesbian women and not one of them is ready to report or litigate. The first one was actually seeking rescue. The remaining 11 were of trans-boys or trans-men (born with female body). The transgenders are usually gender-dysphoric and they have varying levels of dysphoria, according to Mogli. Gender-dysphoria, as explained by Mogli, is a condition where the mindset continues to reject the body – feminine mindset in male body and the other way round too.

Some of them hail from middleclass families and approached the LGBT communities seeking relief from post-traumatic stress disorder brought upon by repeated corrective rapes. “While such attempts of coercion can be handled in societies at the lower economic stratum, thanks to their unequivocal opposition to physical dominance,” Mogli said “survival strategies end where the middle class morality begins.” The victims/survivors of “corrective rape”, especially those belonging to middle class and upper middle class, are subjected to very high degree of emotional blackmail from family members, she added.
Ironically, none of the 15 has even tried to approach the police. They don’t trust the police. Mogli quotes instances wherein policemen “lustily chided” the victims asking if the latter were aware of rape or should “we commit one and demonstrate to you.”

Outspoken gender and sexuality rights activist Gunjan Sharma describes the theory of ‘corrective rape’ “ridiculous” and “repulsive”. She raises question on the need to straighten the sexual behaviour of a person. “What is the need to ‘cure’ homosexuals by applying an age-old theory of ‘corrective rape’ when homosexuality is not a disease?” she asked suggesting the society to respect the orientation of a person and give him due respect.

“To me, ‘corrective rape’ is a violent and repulsive idea. This traumatic event not only threatens the core of an individual, both in physical and psychological terms. Surviving the experience of being raped and denied any support and compassion for the situation they are being forced into, just about anyone would feel insecure and lose their self-confidence, which further gives rise to fear of persecutions and threats,” she told Firstpost.

Furthermore, she added, this abhorrent idea of a family member doing a ‘service’ to ‘cure’ the gay person in the family is revolting at so many levels. “It completely smacks of a misplaced sense of power and is just another ghastly idea of maintaining patriarchal paradigms,” felt Sharma.

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