‘My Family Tried to Burn Me’: LGBTQ Kashmiris Suffer During COVID

‘My Family Tried to Burn Me’: LGBTQ Kashmiris Suffer During COVID

Srinagar, Indian Administrative Kashmir – For Sweety, 36, being a transgender woman is “a curse”. Arriving in a remote village in Budgam district of Indian-administered Kashmir, Sweety realized at the age of 20 that she had become a transgender. Until then, embracing the life of a Tran’s woman was not an easy decision in a conservative environment. However, due to her parents being the youngest daughter and becoming the “most beloved”, gender did not cause too many problems at first.

However, his fate did not last long. In 2016, Sweetie lost her parents in four months. Sweetie leaves home in Budgam district to buy food [Kaiser Andrabi / Al Jazeera]. As the coronavirus epidemic forced people to stay out of the home, social gatherings for the LGBTQ community were also shut down. But home is not a safe place for the underworld community. 

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‘My Family Tried to Burn Me’: LGBTQ Kashmiris Suffer During COVID

In a desperate attempt, one day in March of this year, a neighbor in Sweety neighborhood took the risk of meeting his friend. “My brother slapped me when I came home from the meeting. He suffocated me, I gasped. He tied my leg and then hit me on the leg with a stick,” he said. “Even the children at home start crying. It stopped when my sister-in-law intervened. They threw my things and told me to leave the house. 

Abandoned by her older brother, perhaps “to maintain her social status,” as she puts it, Sweetie is now living independently and coping with all adversity. “For my family, my existence is a curse. They consider me a social responsibility and want me to die as soon as possible,” he told Al Jazeera while preparing food in a dimly lit room.

Sweetie said she had been beaten so badly that she had not been able to walk properly for weeks. Due to restrictions on movement and social gatherings, LGBTQ residents in the region have been forced to live with hostile family members who are often subjected to all sorts of abuse. This problem has long been exacerbated by the lockdown in Kashmir, which began in August 2019, when the Indian government removed the special status of the region.