A bisexual Chechen woman has described how her parents’ friend beat her during an Islamic ‘exorcism’ to rid her of ‘evil spirits’.
Aminat Lorsanova, 22 said she was held at two Chechen clinics, in the region’s capital of Grozny, for five months in 2018, as efforts were made to turn her heterosexual.
While in detention she said her parents’ friend beat her several times while reading the Quran in what was described as an Islamic ‘exorcism’.
‘He was beating me with a stick in the solar plexus, pressing this area and below with his fingers. He put down my skirt to the hips and was pressing there as well,’ Lorsanova said in an emailed statement to VICE News.
Ms Lorsanova, who fled Russia with the help of a LGBT support network last year, said her parents watched and did nothing as she cried for help.
She said that her father also attempted to make her straight on six occasions in 2018 by restraining her with handcuffs and adhesive tape before injecting her with an anti-psychotic.
‘He told me that he was going to treat me like an animal, like a sheep,’ the young woman said.
She is now calling for her parents to be charged criminally, alongside their friend, and a psychiatric clinic, over the allegations.
Ms Lorsanova is said to be living in a safe place outside of Russia, though the group helping her would not say where due to security concerns.
It said one of those who helped her was attacked in their apartment and aggressively interrogated for information on the 22-year-old woman’s whereabouts.
The Moscow Times reported Russia’s Investigative Committee did not say whether it plans to open a criminal case into what the young Chechen had recounted.
Ms Lorsanova’s story follows widespread reports of discrimination against the LGBTQ community in Chechnya that has manifested in widespread reports of anti-gay abuse, including torture and killings.
In 2017 more than 100 gay men were said to have been detained and tortured during a crackdown on the LGBT community.
LGBT Network’s Veronika Lapina told local media that the practice of ‘exorcising’ LGBT people is prevalent both in Chechnya and among the Chechen diaspora.
She said more than 30 young women the group worked with had told the group they had been subjected to the practice in an effort to change their sexual orientation.
In Russia same-sex activity is not a crime, but ‘propaganda of homosexuality toward minors’ was banned in 2013.
Rights advocates in the region said this has created a fertile ground for homophobic attacks.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the allegations of discrimination and retaliation against the LGBT community on the basis of his claims there were no gay people in Chechnya.