|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
Sangama reiterated its support to Saranya and Sruthi, two women who relocated to Bangalore from Kerala; to live together. The press conference held at the Press Club of Ernakulam on 29th July 2013 was addressed by CR Neelakandan (environmental activist and writer), KP Sasi (film maker), Asha Unnithan (advocate), Manohar Elavarthi (founder of Sangama and Joint Secretary of Praja Rajakiya Vedike) and BT Venkatesh (advocate, who is going to represent Saranya in the Kerala Highcourt on 30 July 2013). A video testimony from Saranya and Sruthi was distributed
In the month of June 2013, Sangama Crisis helpline received a phone call from two women (Saranya and Sruthi, both of them are 21 years old) in Kerala, who who wish to lead an independent life in Bangalore requesting assistance. Both of them narrated tales of harassment from their families and have taken a decision to come out of Kerala after due consideration. Initially our helpline coordinator after an assessment of their age based on their school certificates assured them support. They requested Sangama to provide them legal support, if needed. They again called our helpline on the July 6, 2013 informing that they were on their way to Bangalore and requested Sangama to provide them shelter. After checking their credentials we provided them the required support including legal aid.
Later, both of them sent telegrams to their families stating that they have come on their own to Bangalore and that they were safe. Meanwhile, on the 10th July Saranya’s father and Sruthi’s brother came to Bangalore accompanied by Kerala police. With the help of police personnel from Sanjaynagar police station, Bangalore they came to Sangama’s head office and started searching for the women. Our activists stopped the police and asked if they had a search warrant. They did not have a search warrant. We communicated the same to Sanjaynagar Police Inspector. He informed us that Kerala police had come to his police station seeking assistance on a complaint lodged by Saranya’s father that his daughter was found missing from home. We informed the Police Inspector that we would inform and advice the two women to appear before him to answer any queries. Same day we communicated this to the women.
On July 11, 2013 the women went to the Sanjaynagar police station. Sangama’s representatives accompanied them to the police station on their request. The Sanjaynagar Police Inspector, facilitated the meeting of the women with their family members. He enquired if they were interested in returning to Kerala with their family members. The women refused to return to Kerala and informed their family members that they are fine and safe in Bangalore and that they wished to continue to live in Bangalore. Sanjaynagar Police Inspector recorded their statements and supplied copies of the same to the Kerala police, who were present during that time in Sanjaynagar Police Station.
The women who were living peacefully after the police intervention were shocked when they received many phone calls, following the media coverage in Kerala stating that a petition was filed in the Kerala High Court against the state and Saranaya. Saranya’s father alleged that “one lesbian” had kidnapped his daughter with the support of Sangama. They have informed Sangama that the petition was filed suppressing the facts and the incidents that took place in Sanjaynagar Police Inspector’s office in Bangalore.
Sangama is a human rights organisation promoting and defending the rights of sexual minorities, sex workers and other oppressed communities. For the past 13 years, Sangama has been assisting sexual minorities including lesbains, gays, bisexuals and transgenders in Karnataka and Kerela in situations of crisis. A majority of the lesbian women who migrated to Bangalore in the past 10 years are from Kerala.
Sangama will continue to protect the constitutionally guaranteed rights of these adult women. Sangama would extend all possible support to these women in asserting their rights.
For more information contact: 09972903460 (Gurukiran), 09605020888 (Ameer)