Friday, December 23, 2005

'Lesbians face a lot of emotional violence'

Permisson to re-use or copy the article has to be obtained from The Hindustan Times

Interview: Harish Shetty/Social psychiatrist

By Shevlin Sebastian

What are the problems that lesbians face?
They are unable to come out of the closet and reveal to the world they are lesbians. The stigma against lesbianism is so bad that they suffer from enormous fears of exposure. When they are forced to marry they face a lot of guilt, boredom and a sense of dissatisfaction. If they refuse to marry, the parents find it very difficult to look at the cause, which is lesbianism. They say the girl is arrogant, stubborn or scared of marriage. There is a lot of emotional violence against lesbians. Most of the time they are isolated within families.
How do they deal with it?
They have nobody to share their problems with. The number of support groups is very small. They suffer from depression; some of them feel suicidal. Of course, a few have lovers, so that helps but the vast majority are alone. It is a constant struggle. Very few lesbians will be able to walk with their heads held high in a society, which is not aware of what lesbianism is all about.
What solutions do you suggest?
There is no need to come out in the open. The pain of being in the open is much more than the pain of being secretive. I teach them to accept themselves. I try to make them understand this is a normal form of sexuality. Then I help them to get in touch with their families. It is a long and arduous process but, in the end, many parents come around. I also help them to access support groups so that they have a sense of belonging, and have somebody to fall back on during a crisis.

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