December 23, 2020 10:57:40 pm
During the lockdown and subsequent physical distancing guidelines due to Covid-19 pandemic, queer rights groups have found that there has been simmering discontent between parents and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning (LGBTIQ).
“We have seen five cases so far,” Bindumadhav Khire, founder of the Bindu Queer Rights Foundation told The Indian Express. These are mainly related to domestic violence or confrontation of the LGBTIQ members with their parents. “For some, living for months together with no outlet, the simmering discontent between parents and LGBTI members has blown up in crisis cases,” he said.
In one case, a feminine boy was assaulted by a parent. After spending a night on the footpath, he approached the Bindu foundation and was accommodated at a shelter home. Chinmay Damle of Saad Pratishthan Pune Trust said they have got some cases referred to by Khire and it was after a month or so that the boy patched up with his parent and went home.
Khire said that presently they were dealing with a case of a 19-year-old transman, who has been thrown out of his house in a nearby town. He is pursuing his studies and the Bindu foundation has loaned him some funds. “If there is no rapprochement with his parents in the next few days, we will employ him through an earn and learn model,” Khire said.
Stressing on why LGBTIQ members go through a tough time, Dr Arvind Panchanadikar, psychiatrist, said, “When the families are finding it difficult to make ends meet, they unfortunately treat LGBTIQ members as a burden. In such cases, it is likely that there is violence.”
“In case of transwomen, society does not accept them and at times even their families turn their backs towards them, leading to violence. There is no forum to address their concerns and their mental health takes a backseat if they are emotionally and physically violated against. Transwomen from lower medical class also find it difficult to prioritise their mental health needs when there are other pressing issues,” the psychiatrist added.
Studies have found that protecting vulnerable populations from the Covid-19 pandemic was crucial considering they were at an increased risk for a wide range of issues. Khire said that he has been dealing with instances of people seeking help in coming out to their families as lesbian or gay and they are not only distressed but also do not want to live with the families because of domestic violence.
308 cases of domestic violence this year
As against 1,082 cases of domestic violence registered in the city last year, a total of 308 were filed this year by the Women and Child Development department. Protection officers with the WCD said that due to the lockdown restrictions, the stress of being confined with one’s abuser and financial constraints made it difficult to access help against domestic violence.
“In March and April, women could not move out and no cases could be filed in June and July as only emergency cases were taken up in the court,” a WCD official told The Indian Express. “However, as part of our counselling strategies and helplines, we encouraged women to start reporting cases. Just a few days ago, an ex-parte protection order was issued in a case related to mental and physical harassment of a 45-year-old woman by her husband. We are now filing another case related to a domestic help whose husband left her and went to his village and got married. We also work towards bringing families together and a legal aid cell at the Shivajinagar court ensures women can seek assistance free of cost,” said an official.
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