Σελίδες

Κυριακή, 11 Ιουνίου 2017

...στις "κλινικές θεραπείας" γκέι στο Εκουαδόρ...




...στον Ισημερινό λειτουργούν περίπου 200 κέντρα "αποκατάστασης" για ομοφυλόφιλους, τα οποία 
παραμένουν ανοιχτά επειδή παρουσιάζονται σαν κέντρα απεξάρτησης από αλκοόλ και ναρκωτικά. 
Οι κρατούμενοι υπόκεινται σε ψυχολογικά και σωματικά βασανιστήρια, ξυλοδαρμούς και «διορθωτικούς βιασμούς», προκειμένου να αλλάξουν σεξουαλικές προτιμήσεις.
Η φωτογράφος Πάολα Παρέντες -λεσβία η ίδια- «μπαίνει στη θέση» τους μέσα 
από το πρότζεκτ «Μέχρι να αλλάξεις» (Until you change). 
Βασισμένη σε μαρτυρίες αποφυλακισμένων γυναικών και στις δικές της εμπειρίες 
και συναισθήματα, η Παρέντες αναπαριστά με ανατριχιαστικό τρόπο τα όσα φρικτά συμβαίνουν στις αποκαλούμενες κλινικές θεραπείας. 
Στόχος της είναι να αλλάξει τις αντιλήψεις της χώρας της και να αποτρέψει νέους εγκλεισμούς μελών της ΛΟΑΤ κοινότητας. 
Μαζί με την φωτογραφική σειρά, έχει ξεκινήσει και μια εκστρατεία crowdfunding 
προκειμένου να ευαισθητοποιήσει και να εκπαιδεύσει τον κόσμο, συμβάλλοντας 
στο οριστικό κλείσιμο αυτών των χώρων βασανιστηρίων




In Ecuador approximately 200 facilities exist to ‘cure’ homosexual men, women and transsexuals. Unfortunately, the majority of these centers remain open because they 
are disguised as Treatment facilities for alcoholics and drug addicts. Imprisoned against their will, those interned are subject to emotional and physical torture, 
through force-feeding, beatings and corrective rape.

I spent six months interviewing a woman who had been locked up in one of these 
clinics for months, with time I gathered first person accounts of other victims. 
The strict camera prohibition inside this places made telling this story with traditional documenting practices impossible. 
If my family had not been accepting when I came out to them, 
I may have joined the young men and women whose families have them sent to these institutions. Influenced by this notion, I chose to cast myself as the protagonist of these images. I incorporated my own emotions and experiences with theatrical methods 
to explore the abuse of women in these institutions, staging a series of images based 
on the testimony of the women who I interviewed.

​These images allow us to see what was never meant to be seen. 
The perversion of pills and prayer books; the regime of forced femininity in make-up, 
short skirts and high heels; torture by rope or rubber gloves; 
the spectre of ‘corrective’ rape.

Neither laws nor protests have changed my country’s attitudes, and until Ecuadorian 
society can accept the human right to ones sexual orientation and/or gender identity, 
there only remains this so called malady they will try to cure.


Sleep eludes the girls, told she is an abomination to her country’s God, 
a disappointment to her parents. 
She is an involuntary patient at an illegal, immoral clinic.


At 6am, the young women are told to line up, three at a time, 
to enter the bathroom. If they don’t respond with order and obedience, 
they are threatened with harsh discipline and their bad behaviour 
is recorded in a notebook.



She is alone for a maximum of seven minutes, a minimum of four, for her shower. 
Ahead of her, hours of Catholic music, study of Alcoholics Anonymous literature 
and therapy for her homosexuality ‘disorder’.



Prayer and bible study take up mornings, afternoons and evenings. 
The young women are instructed to pray sitting down on chairs, 
standing up or kneeling. 
The staff move around to check that they are praying with their eyes closed. 
If they are not or if they fail to learn bible passages correctly, 
it is written down in the anomaly book.



The morning make-over is, according to the orderlies, 
how girls should have fun. 
Transvestites and drag queens hold group lessons 
on braiding hair and manicures.




In front of the mirror, the ‘patient’ is observed by another girl, 
who monitors the correct application of the make-up. 
At 7.30am, she blots her lips with femininity, daubs cheeks, 
until she is deemed a ‘proper woman’.




The young women enter the dining room in a line. 
They say ‘buen provecho’, eat their lunch in silence and say thank you. 
No talking occurs. 
On their plates is cheap tuna and rice, bread or bad noodle soup.



Between meals, the fridge door is locked. 
At meal times, the residents may request food dropped off by their parents. 
But otherwise the fridge remains locked the whole time.



During the weekend the girls are permitted to watch a movie while 
eating a biscuit or a piece of chocolate. 
It is the only thing to look forward to at the end of each week when 
the demands of the routine take a particular toll on the girls.



Each imprisoned woman spends hours and hours of her time 
on cleaning duties. Each day she is allocated to a cleaning group 
for the office, corridor, kitchen or bathroom. 
The girls later recall feeling empty or worse, feeling nothing. 
If the staff are not satisfied with her work, they insult and beat their 
charge on the spot.



For cleaning materials, the young woman is equipped with a sponge, 
a rag and a toothbrush.



If insomnia does not keep the girl awake, it is the sounds of women 
being tortured. One of the therapists plays loud religious music through 
the night in an attempt to mask the noise.



Walking into any room, the women will encounter an artefact 
or shrine to Jesus or Mary. The staff believe they are doing God’s work, 
saving young people from the devil.



A girl is beaten with a TV cable for failing to pick up her bag from 
a chair, often other gay teenagers in the centre witness this. 
A book of anomalies worthy of punishment is read aloud daily to the group.



One of the young women seeks out liquids of her own, 
overcome by a growing dread. She glugs down the contents 
of a shampoo bottle. 
The small hope is that it gets her to a hospital bed, 
out of the anti-addiction centre.



The memories of the girl return to the cables and rope which 
feature in many stories from these private clinics. 
Sometimes yelling, other times sedated, sometimes left in a bath 
of ice water until restless.



In the bathroom, she must be vigilant when mopping 
and scrubbing every surface with a toothbrush. 
She must pick up all the hairs on the floor. If she makes a mistake, 
an orderly pushes her bare hand into the toilet bowl and holds 
her down until it is clean.


The first time she was tied up was the night her parents 
hired men to sedate and kidnap her in order to bring her to the centre. 
Once there, she has been tied to a bed or left in the bathroom on many nights.

The owner of the centre monitors the residents of using a screen 
in the main office. When away from the wing, she sits at home and 
watches the camera feeds.



One inmate knows she is not allowed to talk to the other girls. 
She is caught passing notes and taken to the therapy room. 
When she arrives, alone, loud religious music is playing. 
The therapist hits her in the chest, orders her to kneel on the 
cold floor and spread her arms. 
She takes the weight of the bibles, one by one, and is still.




As part of the daily regime designed to ‘cure’ women of their sexuality, 
exercise takes place in the early morning or late at night. 
A therapist or orderly shouts at the girls over push-ups and squats.

Every night the women take different types of pills, 
often described as vitamins but not labelled. 
The drugs vary in colour; some cause insomnia, others memory loss. 
The girl suspects, but is not sure, that she was raped after taking 
one of these pills.

Refusing to eat leads to questioning the authority of the staff. 
Later, she is kicked into a corner by a male employee to set 
an example to the others.

Violence from the staff is not limited to days when the ‘patients’ 
have disobeyed the rules. 
They come to reckon on it regardless of what’s said or done. 
Slapping and choking are not uncommon.

Under the gaze of the male therapist, the girls are made 
to dress in short skirts, make-up and heels and to practice 
walking like ‘real women’. 
The act is emotionally draining and physically painful.

Young Ecuadorian women have provided testimony that they 
were raped by male employees as part of ‘treatment programs’ to cure 
homosexuality. Others have some form of memories or nightmares 
suggesting that they were sexually assaulted, possibly after 
they were drugged.
republication  https://www.paolaparedes.com/

Ένα Μάρτιος 2008 ομοφυλόφιλης υπερηφάνειας σε Machala, Εκουαδόρ (vesselthefilm / creative commons)


Until You Change: “Dehomosexualization” the Ecuadorian 


IT was four years ago that I first learned about the private ‘clinics’ that claim to cure homosexuality in Ecuador. My first thought was that it could be me held there and told that, as a gay woman, I needed to change. Two years later, I came out to my family and was accepted by them. In my country, many young women and men are not so fortunate.

I discovered that around 200 clandestine centers still operate in the gaps between progressive laws and conservative beliefs. In Ecuador 80% of the population is Catholic and the church in general has very conservative values, so homosexuality is still something that is frowned upon. Until 1997, same-sex relationships and romantic activity were illegal and punishable by four to eight years in prison in Ecuador. In 2011 several cases appeared of centres offering to “cure” homosexuality, with dozens of cases coming to light: ‘ At that time it was estimated that two hundred such facilities were in operation. Many parents and families still believe that homosexuality is an addiction; a sexual disorder that they believe that can be “cured” by some harsh discipline.

The first few private rehabilitation centres emerged in the country beginning in the 1970s, several decades before any regulatory body existed to oversee them. The method of treatment in these clinics is an “until you change” mentality. For many years, the brutality of these practices has gone unpunished. Some of the most extreme of these practices include: the use of restraints, tranquilizers, beatings, withholding of food, and other forms of humiliating treatment. Most patients are kidnapped and drugged against their will by their own family.
Unfortunately, the majority of these centres remain open because they are disguised as Treatment facilities for alcoholics and drug addicts . While some of the individuals do fall into those categories, there is an alarming and growing number of gay men, women and transsexuals being admitted to these centres everyday. Another reason why these centres remain open, is the lack of vigilance by the Ecuadorean government, who are not strict in enforcing regulations, as well as the fact that in Ecuador a corrupt system of bribery exists. The truth is that these clinics are mainly run by ex-subtance abusers themselves and in some cases doctors lend their names to give the clinics credibility. One of the reasons behind the alarming growth of these centres is monetary gain, with the average cost of treatment being $500-$800 per month for each patient.
In 2011, this issue made headlines on a number of international newspapers after a Change.org petition forced the Ecuadorean government to take action, together with the help of other activist groups they managed to and close around 30 clinics. Years after, the issue has completely cooled down, not because these clinics have ceased to exist, but rather because of the short memory span of Ecuadorean society and the ongoing corrupt policies that keep these clinics open.


For me, the chance to act came late 2015. I spent six months interviewing a woman who had been sent to one of these religious ‘clinics’ by her parents and locked up for a number of months. With time, I gathered more first person accounts. Women told me of sham ‘diagnoses’ and ‘treatments’, carried out in the name of the bible.

The centers’ secrecy made it impossible to approach this issue using traditional documenting practices. Instead I set out to reconstruct a series of images, based on details from real life accounts, using myself as the protagonist and carefully sourcing locations, actors and props. I incorporated my own emotions and experiences with theatrical methods to explore the abuse of women in these institutions.

These staged images allow us to see what was never meant to be seen. The perversion of pills and prayer books; the regime of forced femininity in make-up, short skirts and high heels; torture by rope or rubber gloves; the spectre of ‘corrective’ rape.

In my attempt to take the viewer inside these secretive buildings, the scenes act as a mirror to the inner pain of the young woman. She is told she is sick, sinful, a deviant in need of curing. Suffering makes way for melancholy but her despair is what the camera is ultimately faced with. There is nothing to cure.

The human rights of these young men and women are disregarded by Ecuador’s government, these centers are camouflaged, hidden in remote areas and small towns in Ecuador, currently the Ecuadorean State does not have the capacity to regulate these clandestine places. In some cases these horrendous tortures occur inside of churches, that are hard to tracked down by the government. And in worst instances the government is somewhat complicit in these actions.


Relevant links to find out more
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