Anjana Harish, a 21-year-old queer recently killed herself because of the prevailing Homophobia in India. She was a student of Government Brennen College, Kannur. She had travelled to Goa a few days before the lockdown.
Anjana had put up a video on 13th March 2020 on her Facebook live stating that she was openly a Bisexual woman in India. She accused that her family did not accept her as a Queer and that she was abused both physically and mentally. She also recalled incidents of solitary confinement inside a cell at a mental health centre because her family believed that they could “cure bisexuality.”
Anjana in the video said, “I really do not know what to say and what to do. The medicine makes me dizzy and I am not able to see or talk properly. I’ve become robotic.” She also said that her family members have taken her to psychiatric hospitals that her sexuality can be treated by conversion therapy.
This is what Anjana said in the video.
“Hi, I am Anjana Harish. You might know only some of my story I have come live today to tell you what has been going on. So I’ll try and summarize what happened. On the night of 24th December, my family along with some other people put me in a car at Kannur Railway Station. They were taking me to Coimbatore. My arm was bleeding when they were taking. They tortured me physically. Not just physically, also mentally. I was taken to a doctor named N.S. Moni in Coimbatore. I tried my utmost to convince the doctor that I was not sick, that I had no problems, that I am okay. But they still put me under sedatives. I tried to resist this as much as I could. But they hit me on my ear with the implement which was being used to sedate me and I fell down. I could not do anything. I don’t remember what happened after that. When I woke up I was in a deaddiction and mental health centre in Palakkad. I had no idea what language was being spoken, which district I was in, or even where I was, when I awoke. I was the only young person at the place, others were hallucinating schizophrenics, old mothers with no one to look after them and other such people. Here, for 3 weeks I was physically and mentally kept in a cell. They only brought me out during meal times. It was centre run by Christians. I spent every night there crying my heart out. Alone, with only strangers around me. After the three weeks, they took me to a place called Karunasai in Trivandrum, which is a similar deaddiction and mental health centre. I was given some 40 injections in this period, not to speak of the medicines. I was mentally and physically broken. Even after I was brought back home… I can’t tolerate… My own family did this to me, that’s what saddens me the most. The ones who were supposed to protect me, tortured me so much. Al these years, they haven’t given me the love and respect rightful of a daughter, so I didn’t get it now either I suppose. After this, I left home with the help of some friends and came back to my hostel.
Now… I don’t know what is left to say now (laughs). When I was given the medicine and injections, this thing called ‘Anjana Harish’ disappeared. The medication made me dizzy, it impaired my vision, and talking… It is now that I am able to talk in the middle of the CoVid crisis Now I feel better about facing people. But I can’t face crowds. I have become afraid of the dark. I can’t sleep without the lights on. Talking was very difficult. My voice was like a robot’s. My friends know this first-hand, when they first saw me I was something like a robot. Now the situation is like this: my mother is making threatening calls to my friends. That they will get them killed, lodge complaints with the police. This is what they are doing. Yesterday, my mother called me and talked to me in disgusting language. She lodged a missing person case with the police yesterday and called me from the station itself. They have summoned me there now. But I told them that my physical condition didn’t allow for that. I was then told to report at a local police station. So today morning I am getting ready to visit the police station here. I will have to appear before the district magistrate as well. I am going there now. What will happen, I don’t know. I don’t know if they’ll lock me up. If I will be alive. That’s why I am making this live video.”
Two days ago, Anjana committed suicide by hanging herself to death in Goa. Activists and the Queer community representatives have called out that her family was indirectly involved in her death while her friends speculate that the prevailing homophobic in India triggered Anjana to kill herself. But there were also reports released stating that Anjana on 15th May were calling her relatives and pleaded desperately to take her come. Allegedly Anjana had told her mother that her friends had betrayed her and that she wanted to return home. Before her parents could do anything, they received the news of Anjana’s lifeless body hanging from a tree.
Reports state that her friends were not able to find Anjana for a while in the hostel they were staying. After not being able to find her for an hour, Anjana’s friends got suspicious only to find her hanging from a tree. Her friends said that Anjana was depressed for a long time and had suicidal thoughts.
This is not the first case of a Queer in this country ending their life because of the homophobic community in India. Family becomes the first step for everyone when they decide to come out. For a country like India, having set cultural norms and traditions, homosexuality is considered something that can be cured, which is a wrong perception. Anjana’s case though tells us that Homophobia and forcing an individual for conversion therapy when they come out as Queer, hind sights a lot of individuals to express their sexuality.
MHI chief Shruti Chakravarty said that the mental health communities should stop conversion therapies forever to not lose any more lives like Anjana Harish.