Sarmila Malla, 19, a resident of Chandol, Odisha India was tied to a tree and beaten by neighbors Friday when she was found in bed with her partner of 6 months. The beating of Sarmila Malla is reminiscent of what Matthew Shepard suffered which subsequently shamed a nation and ignited a revolution.
“We beat up and tied Sarmila to a tree in our village as she is a lesbian. She is immoral and has besmirched the name of our village,” confessed Ganesh Parida, a resident of Chandol.
On Saturday the traumatized girl recounted what happened the day before. “They beat me up and tied me to a tree,” recounted Sarmila, “we are madly in love.” she said she said of her girlfriend, trying to make sense of this senseless act of violence.
Indeed, it could have been the ultimate tragedy.
Ranjan Parida said he witnessed the brutal attack and was “appalled,” and concerned citizens called the police, who arrived on the scene and untied Malla. Police have opened an investigation, and those found guilty could face up to seven years in prison.
Malla said she and her girlfriend are “madly in love,” and added that her parents had attempted unsuccessfully to rescue her from the mob.
While India decriminalized gay sex last year, and sprinter Dutee Chand recently became the country’s first out athlete, the situation for the LGBTQ community remains perilous. Marriage equality has still not come to India, and it doesn’t appear as if it will anytime soon.
Last March, students at a girl’s school in Calcutta were forced to turn in written “confessions” saying they were lesbians. And in May of last year, an angry mob beat a transgender woman to death in Chandrayangutta over false child trafficking rumors.
September 2018 the Supreme Court struck down a colonial-era ban on gay sex that had been used to blackmail, harass and sexually assault L.G.B.T.Q. Indians.