19-year-old transwoman harassed by parents, subjected to forceful conversion therapy in Kochi; Kerala HC intervenes

The court has ordered to produce Elida Rubielle before it on July 1, 2024, after a habeas corpus petition was filed by her friend.
Representative Image.
Representative Image.(Photo | Pexels)

KOCHI: A 19-year-old transwoman Elida Rubielle of Vennala in Kochi was allegedly harassed by her parents and subjected to forceful conversion therapy. On Wednesday, June 26, 2024, her friends lost contact with her.

Following this, her friend Adithya Kiron, backed by Dhisha Kerala, a non-profit, filed a habeas corpus petition in the Kerala High Court. The court directed the police to produce her before it on Monday, July 1, 2024.

Meanwhile, her friends found that Elida is at her house in Vennala.

The writ petition claimed that Elida has been illegally detained by her family and subjected to physical and mental torture.

“Elida revealed her gender identity to her parents two years ago. Since then they have been torturing her”, said Adithya.

Following harassment at home, Elida contacted Dhisha through WhatsApp and a complaint was registered in Palarivattom Police Station on June 22, 2024.

“The policemen did not take her issue seriously. They sent her back with her father, says Adithya.

The petition says that on June 25, Elida was forcibly taken to Amrita Hospital in Kochi by her family to undergo conversion therapy. She was made to sign a form without her consent. Following this, Elida approached government entities like the Social Justice Department, Victim Rights Centre, DGP of Police and the like via email.

Dhisha Kerala also approached the District Social Justice Department, Ernakulam on her behalf.

The petition also says that the Head of Psychiatry at Amrita Hospital threatened to declare her clinically insane if she tried to discharge herself.

“She sent me the recording where Dr. Bindu Menon is threatening her and telling her that she’s just confused and should listen to what her parents want," Adithya noted.

Representing Elida is Dhisha Kerala’s legal coordinator Adv. Dhanuja M S “The last correspondence from her was from the hospital. Then we couldn’t reach her”, says Dhanuja. When her friends tried to see her at the hospital, the police were called and they were detained. That is when they decided to file a habeas corpus.

Later they found that Elida is under the custody of her parents.

In its order, the High Court asked the first respondent in the petition, the Station House Officer, Palarivattom station, for Elida to be safely produced in court on Monday.

It restrained the hospital and her family from conducting any surgeries or medical procedures on Elida without her explicit consent. The court also directed the state police to investigate the allegations of coercion and abuse.

The court's intervention is anchored in the recognition of the rights of transgender persons as laid out by the Supreme Court of India. In the landmark NALSA Judgement and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019, the Supreme Court affirmed the fundamental rights of transgender people, including the right to self-identify their gender. In an interim order passed in response to a writ petition filed in 2020, the Kerala High Court has directed stringent actions against any complaint received regarding forceful conversion therapy.

Conversion therapy is a pseudo, unscientific practice of attempting to change an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to align with heterosexual and cisgender norms.

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