by Paola Paredes
In Ecuador approximately 200 facilities exist to ‘cure’ homosexual men, women and transsexuals. Unfortunately, the majority of these centers remain open because they are disguised as Treatment facilities for alcoholics and drug addicts. Imprisoned against their will, those interned are subject to emotional and physical torture, through force-feeding, beatings and corrective rape.
I spent six months interviewing a woman who had been locked up in one of these clinics for months, with time I gathered first person accounts of other victims. The strict camera prohibition inside this places made telling this story with traditional documenting practices impossible. If my family had not been accepting when I came out to them, I may have joined the young men and women whose families have them sent to these institutions. Influenced by this notion, I chose to cast myself as the protagonist of these images. I incorporated my own emotions and experiences with theatrical methods to explore the abuse of women in these institutions, staging a series of images based on the testimony of the women who I interviewed.
These images allow us to see what was never meant to be seen. The perversion of pills and prayer books; the regime of forced femininity in make-up, short skirts and high heels; torture by rope or rubber gloves; the spectre of ‘corrective’ rape.
Neither laws nor protests have changed my country’s attitudes, and until Ecuadorian society can accept the human right to ones sexual orientation and/or gender identity, there only remains this so called malady they will try to cure.