News (World)

Bi woman says she was detained at a clinic for 4 months & beaten to “expel evil spirits”

Protestors with a rainbow flag and a sign that says "Stop genocide in Chechnya"
Saint-Petersburg / Russia - 05.01.2017: participants of the May Day rally on the central street of the city. LGBT activists protest against gay repressions in Chechnya. Photo: Shutterstock

On Monday, a 22-year-old bisexual woman named Aminat Lorsanova filed a complaint with Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee over allegations that a psychiatric clinic in Chechnya detained and tortured her for 25 days at the request of her parents during August 2018.

Lorsanova is also seeking the arrest of her parents and an unnamed man who tried to “expel evil spirits” from her during a four-month detainment at the Republican Psycho-Neurological Dispensary in the Chechen capitol city of Grozny.

Related: U.N. demands answers from Russia following more reports of anti-LGBTQ torture in Chechnya

The man, an acquaintance of her father, allegedly beat her with a stick in the center of her chest and press painfully in the area as well as along her hips after pulling down her skirt. He recited Islamic prayers while she screamed and begged her observing parents to intervene — they didn’t.

She also claims that six times during the end of 2018 her father handcuffed her and bound her feet and mouth in duct tape so that he could forcibly inject her with a sedative, leaving her to sleep with her limbs and lips restrained.

Lorsanova escaped Chechnya with the help of the Russian LGBT Network, a local organization that has helped other persecuted LGBTQ people flee the Islam-majority region which operates as a semi-autonomous republic. She is now living in an undisclosed location outside of Russia for her own safety.

Since 2017, Chechnya has conducted an ongoing campaign of kidnapping, detaining, torturing, and killing its LGBTQ citizens.

Chechen authorities — most of whom are former military members who serve as the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s secret police force — often detain suspected queer people under the pretense of drug charges. Police then examine their phones for other LGBTQ contacts, using torture to get as much info as possible.

A 31-page report released in August 2017 by the Russian LGBT Network said torturers use “electrocution, beatings, starvation, dehydration, isolation, forced nudity, homophobic insults and misgendering” to punish detainees, confiscating their personal belongings and only allowing them to sleep three hours a day on cold concrete floors. The detainees aren’t allowed to bathe or use toilets and they receive no medical care.

At least 27 people are believed to have died in the crackdown. The Russia LGBT Network has helped approximately 119 gay and bi men escape the purge and flee to Moscow, Canada Lithuania, France, and Germany.

Russian and Chechen authorities have shrugged off all reports of the campaign as insubstantial. The Trump Administration has refused visas to LGBTQ refugees fleeing violence there.

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