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(Photo from Times of India)
Lesbian couple hounded in Delhi

in INDIA, 20/02/2011

Rhea and Sakshi are lesbian couple. Rhea's family has used pressure tactics to get her back, which now includes the help of the police.

NEW DELHI: There was high drama in a Vasant Kunj neighbourhood on Saturday night when policemen from Mumbai and Delhi landed at the flat of two women, Rhea and Sakshi (names changed). The two, aged 20 and 30 years, respectively, are from Mumbai and have been staying at this house since January. And they have no qualms about admitting that they are lesbians and
partners.

The two had met at a coaching centre in Mumbai and became close friends. Gradually, they realized that their sexual orientation was different and expressed their feelings for each other. Since then, they have been in a relationship.

Rhea claims her family has not come to terms with her sexual preferences and has been discouraging her from pursuing her education in Mumbai. The girl alleges she was a victim of violence in her house and accuses her brother of inflicting abuse.

Frustrated by the circumstances at home, Rhea, along with her partner, decided to elope in January this year. The girls first went to Pune and from there shifted base to Belgaum in Karnataka. Finally, they came to Delhi via Mumbai on January 11 and got in touch with Sangini, an NGO which works with women and creates awareness about their sexual health.

Rhea alleges that soon after they arrived, her family started using pressure tactics to get her back. The matter was even reported by her family to National Commission for Women who served a notice on the girls. Both claimed to have appeared before the NCW and expressed their views on the issue. They say they made their statements before NCW chairperson Girija Vyas and asserted that they didn't wish to go back and desired to live their life as adults.

Rhea claims that before leaving Mumbai she had registered an affidavit to the effect that she was leaving the house of her own will and no one can stop her from leading her life on her own terms. For her, the last one month has been a challenge as her family has been repeatedly returning to convince her to go back to Mumbai. She fears once she returns, she will be subjected to violence and separated from her partner.

On Saturday evening, the girls were shocked when cops from Vasant Kunj police station, along with their Mumbai counterparts, landed at the flat. Members of Sangini alleged that the police tried to barge in. In fact, a Sangini member, Maya Shankar, claimed the police dragged her out of the way to be able to enter. When TOI reached the spot late on Saturday night, Maya was seen sitting in a police jeep under detention while the two girls were huddled in fear in one of the rooms of the house which they had bolted from inside. A crowd outside the house mostly comprised of police personnel and residents.

The police asked the staff of the NGO and the director of Naz Foundation, Anjali Gopalan, to get out of the way so that they could do their duty. Gopalan told TOI that despite repeated pleas, the police refused to show any documents. Later, she was told that Rhea was to be arrested for robbery as a complaint had been registered by her family that she had stolen valuables from their house in Mumbai before running away. "What shocks me is that first the police tries to enter a house where women are living alone. In fact, initially they came with gas cylinders, a crowbar and a hammer to break open the door which was locked from inside as the two women were petrified," Gopalan added.

Confronted by activists who highlighted many rules to reinforce that this was no way to execute an arrest, police finally said they would make the arrest in the morning. While the police and Rhea's relatives waited outside, Sangini's members were inside consoling the two women.
 

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