What will appear as shocking news to some is actually a grim reality that others in India have been living with. ‘Corrective rape’ was a term coined in South Africa, where such rapes are rampant. According to the crisis intervention team of LGBT Collective in Telangana, fifteen cases of corrective rape were reported in India over the last five years.
Though 15 cases have been reported, the number is likely to be higher because many probably choose to not report the rape.
“We came across such cases not because they reported the rape, but because they sought help to flee their homes” said Vyjayanti Mogli, a member of crisis intervention. In most cases, the rapists are family members, which is why the rapes go unreported.
“Victims find it traumatizing to speak of their brother/cousins turning rapists and prefer to delete the incident from their memories,” said Mogli.
It is hard to imagine what trauma the victims feel, knowing that family members planned and participated in their rape. For families, corrective rape is a way of ‘disciplining’ or ‘curing’ a gay person. The rapist can be the brother, father or even a cousin.
In a case of male corrective rape, a gay youth was forced to have sex with his own mother as a way of ‘curing” him.
In south India, marriages between cousins are common. Many girls are ‘engaged’ to their cousins right after birth. If the girl grows up and identifies as a lesbian, then her would-be husband is often roped in to ‘cure’ her by having forcible sex with her.
With homosexuality being a punishable crime in India, some families feel that they have no option but to opt for corrective rapes.
Deepthi Tadanki, a Hyderabadi filmmaker, is making a film on corrective rape called ‘Satyavati’. The film is based on real life incidents but Tadanki needs more funding to complete it. Deepthi wrote to NGOs to get help with statistics on corrective rapes in India but didn’t hear back from any of them.
Corrective rape is a sensitive subject. That doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge it but rather than we deal with it honestly and humanely.