QUITO, Ecuador — More than 80 unlicensed clinics throughout Ecuador are using rape, electric shock and beatings as “treatment” to convert gay people into heterosexuals, according to the country’s openly lesbian Health Minister, Carina Vance.
Two people who had been admitted the clinics have died last year, Vance said in a news conference over the weekend, adding that authorities have begun to crack down on the facilities.
“We have reports of physical attacks, the use of ice water on inmates,” said Vance. “We have lesbians who have reported what the clinics called ‘sex therapy,’ but which consists of being raped by men.”
“We are talking here about a mafia, a network that operates nationally in each of the provinces, which are violating human rights,” she said.
One of the victims, Denisse Freire, now 25, was sent to a “Christian camp” run by an Evangelical group after her mother discovered her in a room with another girl when she was 15 years-old.
In order to cure her of homosexuality, Freire said was raped and tortured “with electric shocks, didn’t let me bathe for three days, gave me almost nothing to eat, hit me a lot, hung me by my feet. They told me it was for my own good.”
The center was supposed to be a rehabilitation clinic for drug and alcohol addiction, but Freire reported she was held with four other young gays.
After two months of “treatments,” Freire escaped.
In June, Zulema Constante, a 22-year-old psychology student, escaped a similar clinic in the eastern city of Tena, after being interned by her family in order to “cure” her of being a lesbian.
The clinic is owned by a health official in the region.
Vance said that as of March of last year, 18 of these clinics have been closed for health and/or human rights violations.
Many of these clinics, such as the one attended by Constante, are owned by elected officials.
Vance also stated that Ecuador’s law allows permits forced treatment of an “addict” following an order by a judge.