Untold Injustice in India

December 01, 2010

Last year, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, held its first gay pride festival, a seemingly significant move for equality. But last August, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community was reminded that their rights are still tenuous when Chennai police detained a 19-year-old lesbian woman named Kavitha after she moved in with her partner. Her parents — who reportedly wanted Kavitha to marry — filed a missing persons report, asking police to return their adult daughter “home.” Allegedly, officials asked Kavitha to come to the police station to sign paperwork, but when she arrived, they gave her an ultimatum: return to her parents’ house or be sent away to an ashram.

Photo by Steve Evans

After being held for more than 10 hours, Kavitha left for an ashram in Mylapore with a representative from sexual minority rights group Sangama. The group says that she was forced into her exile, while police say she went of her own volition. Regardless, instead of living with her partner, Kavitha is now sentenced to a life of celibacy and victimhood, her most basic freedoms of citizenship utterly decimated. Kavitha’s injustice earned one brief article in the Times of India. Her story remains largely untold.

Unfortunately, Kavitha’s story isn’t unique. Women across the world face attacks on their personal freedoms every day, with little legal recourse. Such stories underscore a harrowing truth. Women, we are in this together. Complacency in our own lives breeds complicity in others’ oppression. What can you do to help your global sisters?

Don’t let Kavitha’s story go untold. Tell your friends, family, and political representatives. Write an e-mail to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and leave your other ideas in the comments.

This post was written by Public Policy Fellow Emily Pfefer.

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