Our society's extreme aversion to homosexuality is not unknown. Gays have been constant victims to discrimination, marginalisation, name calling, violence and sexual abuse. But getting raped by own family members for 'correction' is something which defies all logic of civility and humanity.
According to a report published in Times of India, there have been 15 instances of 'corrective rapes' that have been reported in the group in the last five years as per the statistics of Crisis intervention team of LGBT Collective in Telangana.
"We are sure there are many more cases, but they go unreported, says Vyjayanti Mogli, a member of crisis intervention. "We came across such cases not because they reported the rape, but because they sought help to flee their homes."
The practice of 'corrective' rape is done to cure 'victims of homosexuality. What is equally shocking is that in these cases, the rapists are sometimes family members themselves or someone known and accepted by the family. As a result, the victims do not report such matters to the police, owing to family pressure.
"It's usually a cousin who's roped in for this 'project'. In some communities in South India, marriages amongst cousins are common. Many times, a girl's parents may decide that she would be married off to a cousin (i.e. her father's sister's son or mother's brother's son) soon after her birth. Now, if this girl happens to be queer and if it is found out that she is in a relationship with another girl, elders in the family believe having sex with the 'would-be', even if it's forcibly, will cure her," Vyjayanti explains .
The practice of corrective rape had its origins in South Africa, which holds the dubious distinction of having the highest rape rates in the world. Unfortunately, it is gaining acceptance in our society due to the notion of considering homosexuality as a 'disease'.
Deepthi Tadanki, a Hyderabad based filmmaker is working on a film named, Satyavati, based on some real life cases of corrective rape. "When I was researching on this subject for my film, I came across two gut wrenching stories of corrective rape — one, where a gay girl was raped by her cousin so that she could be "cured" of homosexuality; and another, where family members forced a gay boy to have sex with his mother, in a bid to turn him 'straight", she said . Despite her continued efforts in engaging various NGO's and activists, she is yet to get the required support for the film.
The issue of corrective rapes is not just about LGBT rights. It is no different from any other rape. It is an inhuman act. Treating homosexuality as 'unnatural' or something 'against the will of God', is a clear indication that our society is obsessed with majoritarianism. But raping someone for his/her sexual orientation is ghastly and barbaric.