(Trigger warning: Homophobia.)
Over a week after the Kerala High Court closed the habeas corpus plea filed by Sumayya Sherin, a lesbian woman from Kerala who sought the release of her partner from her family's custody, the couple was reunited on Wednesday, 28 June, as per Vanaja Collective, an NGO based out of Kerala.
"Currently, [they] are together in a safe space, as assured by a mediator. Both of them will give a statement regarding the past incidents and future at the police station in the coming days. We will post further updates and statements in the coming days [sic]."Vanaja Collective, via Instagram
However, speaking to The Quint, Arsha, an executive member of Vanaja Collective, said that while this is good news, the issue hasn't been resolved yet. "Though they have been reunited, we can't say the issue has been resolved fully until the couple is free and safe. They still have to give their statements to the police and they should be safe."
Sumayya had moved the court alleging that her partner's family was forcibly keeping her under house arrest. But during the hearing on 19 June, the partner told the high court that while she was in a live-in relationship with Sumayya, she was now staying with her parents of her own volition.
A few days ago, in a series of texts to Sumayya, the partner claimed that she was "forced to tell the court" that she wished to go with her parents.
"She [the partner] texted me from her mother's phone on 24 and 25 June, saying that she was helpless and that her family was emotionally controlling her. They even threatened to hurt me. She feared for her safety and mine – that's why she told the court that she wanted to stay with her family," Sumayya, who hails from Malappuram, told The Quint over the phone on Tuesday night, 27 June.
On Tuesday, purported videos of Sumayya's partner being forced inside a car by her family – to supposedly take her to a hospital – were accessed by Vanaja Collective.
The video was purportedly filmed by officials from the Women's Protection Office (WPO) in Malappuram, who had gone to the woman's home in Kondotty, after they received a complaint from Sumayya and Vanaja Collective that her partner was being subjected to 'conversion therapy' and that her life was in danger.
The Separation & the Court Case
Sumayya and her partner, who are both 21 years old, fell in love with each other in school and had been living together in Ernakulam since January this year.
On 30 May, the partner's family allegedly took her from her workplace by force, after which Sumayya filed complaints at the Kolenchery and Kondotty police stations. Sumayya said her family had blocked all avenues of communication with her.
Six days later, she filed a habeas corpus plea in the high court. The court ordered that the woman be presented by 9 June, but the family requested time till 19 June to produce her.
After the partner told the court that she wanted to go with her family, Sumayya told The Quint she was devastated. She said there was no contact between them – until 24 June.
Allegations of 'Conversion Therapy'
Sumayya told The Quint that she first received a text from her partner on Instagram, saying "she was scared." She was immediately blocked after the text.
"Then, she sent me messages from her mother's phone and asked me not to respond," Sumayya said. Her partner told her that she was first taken to a psychologist (after her family allegedly took her from her workplace) and then to a private hospital in Kozhikode.
"She told me she begged the doctors and nurses to let her go and even asked them to call the police – but they said our relationship is against nature, even the doctors. She even tried to escape once, but to no avail," Sumayya told The Quint.
Sumayya alleged that when her partner protested, "they injected her with something – and she was unconscious for a day."
"For days, she had no idea what was happening around her. She didn't even know that I had moved the court. Even now, they're giving her some medication, and she is due to go to the hospital on Friday [30 May]."
Screenshots of the texts from the partner show alleged mistreatment by health professionals.
"I kept telling them, but no one understood. I told them I wanted to come see you, but no one heard me. But when they realised they couldn't keep me from you, they upped my dosage ... Please come take me away, I cannot live without you."Text messages by the partner
Sumayya told The Quint, "They are medicating her saying that she is stressed and unbalanced. The medicine makes her really helpless. She sleeps all day, she can't even stand up. Her feet start trembling. She doesn't know anything that's happening. She can't even stand up straight, and this treatment is going to last six months."
She, however, said that the doctors are not calling it 'conversion therapy' as it is against the law.
"She was begging me to get her out of her home as she is not safe. She also told me that if I don't hear from her in the next two-three days, then her parents must have found out that she texted me," Sumayya said.
The Quint is reaching out to the said hospital, and this story will be updated with their response as and when we receive it.
When WPO Representatives Visited Her Home
When Sumayya didn't hear from her partner for two days, she reached out to Vanaja Collective, who then contacted the police and the Women's Protection Office.
Two women officials from the One Stop Home under the WPO visited the partner's home in Kondotty on Tuesday morning and took statements from her and her family. Two police officers also accompanied them for protection as a large group of people had gathered outside her home.
"When the representatives visited her, she gave a statement to them saying she doesn't want to stay there. But her parents refused to send her with them – and they threatened her with suicide," Sumayya said, based on what the WPO told her.
As per the visuals uploaded by Vanaja Collective, the partner was forced into a car by her family, allegedly to take her back to he hospital. She is seen vehemently resisting in the visuals. Another visual showed several members of her family standing outside her home.
"The WPO officials were helpless then and the police also couldn't do anything either, as the court ordered that she should stay with her parents," Sumayya said.
It is learnt that the WPO officers submitted a report to the sub-collector on Wednesday, 28 June.