Abusive lesbian relationship puts Pune cops in a fix

Mar 11, 2016, 13:01 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

The Pune city police’s Women’s Grievance Redressal Cell had to tackle a tricky case of a lesbian relationship between an aunt and her niece, which also allegedly later turned abusive

The Pune city police’s Women’s Grievance Redressal Cell, which commonly deals with family disputes pertaining to domestic violence or betrayal by spouse in a relationship, were in a fix recently. They had to tackle a case of a lesbian relationship between an aunt and her niece, which also allegedly later turned abusive.

Representational pic

Tulsi Patil, 27, was in a relationship with her 19-year-old niece, Aasawari Chavan (names changed to protect identities). Tulsi is Aasawari’s mother’s cousin. Recently, Aasawari’s mother filed a complaint after Aasawari’s father caught her (Aasawari) and Tulsi in a compromising position.

After the parents took the case to the police, Inspector Pratibha Joshi, in-charge of Woman Grievance Redressal cell of Pune city, is tackling the case with the help of legal experts and a psychiatrist. They said the case is unprecedented as the police were not experienced enough to deal with Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) cases.

Lured with love
Aasawari, is the daughter of an autorickshaw driver. She is a first-year junior college commerce student from Magarpatta. She also works part time as a receptionist in a doctor’s clinic in the swish Koregaon Park area. Tulsi is a small-scale entrepreneur who runs a couple of wholesale grocery shops in Marketyard area, and is from a comparatively well off family.

On February 28, Aasawari’s mother, Savita approached the Redressal Cell claiming that her daughter and her daughter’s aunt were in a lesbian relationship. On the same day, Aasawari wrote a complaint against Tulsi admitting to their relationship, but said that her aunt is now threatening her and family, demanding R 5 lakh and blackmailing them with the aim of defaming them. Savita alleged that Tulsi had also started abusing her daughter.

She said, “My daughter is a healthy and good looking girl. Since six months now, I noticed she was losing weight and had a lot of scratch marks on her body. When I asked Aasawari about it, she brushed it off, but then, I was shocked to learn that Tulsi was sexually abusing my daughter.”

Aasawari added, “Our relationship began a couple of years ago. My aunt plied me with gifts like dresses, lingerie, watches and also wined and dined with me. I did like it when she hugged and kissed me, actually acted like a boyfriend and told me to call her so, and not address her as my aunt. From physical displays of affection, we graduated to having sex.”

Aasawari claimed that her aunt grew more sexually demanding as she turned 18, and they would have sex in the clinic she worked in after it had closed down. Later, Aasawari claimed that things soured and the sex became rough and painful for her, after which she started avoiding her aunt.

On February 28, when Savita was taking her to the police station, Aasawari claimed she was accosted by Tulsi, who allegedly slapped her and manhandled Savita. The sordid saga then took another turn with Tulsi allegedly threatening to kill Aasawari.

When mid-day contacted Tulsi to seek her responses to these allegations, she denied all of them, but said she did not want to comment further. “I do not want to comment on this any more as from my end the matter is over. I have nothing to do with that family,” she said.

Aasawari explained that she approached the Women Grievance Redressal Cell to protect her from her aunt. “I do not want to continue the relationship. I will marry a boy my parents choose,” she said.

For Inspector Joshi it has been a learning experience. She says, “This concept was not familiar and this was a very challenging situation. Tulsi was clever and uncooperative as she knew there was no case to be made against her. It is such a complex case, it is my first case ever in which I counseled daily for two hours, late evening after all the other more routine cases were out of the way. The girl was a major so child abuse could not be slapped on her aunt. It was evident too that the girl did like her aunt very much. I did a lot of research on lesbianism and also spoke to some psychiatrists and legal experts. For two days, I let the girl speak and on the third day asked her if she wanted to continue the relationship with her aunt. But the girl did not want to continue. On the fourth day, I spoke to her aunt. A week later, we brought them together and Aasawari said that she does not want to continue the relationship, because Tulsi had threatened to kill her and also blackmailed her.”

Joshi added, “For two days, we got a private psychiatrist and counsellors adept at tackling similar cases. Aasawari wept in those sessions, then she realised that she was drawn to her aunt physically. Now she wants to study and move ahead in life. Her parents did not want to lodge a case against Tulsi. We summoned and warned Tulsi against harassing Aasawari. We are still following up the case with Tulsi and Aasawari. Both are firm that they do not want to give their relationship a second chance. Aasawari wants to marry a boy of her parents’ choice.”

Joshi signed off saying, “This was a real challenge for us. This was a first for me in my 25-year career. I was surprised to learn that police deal with such cases on a regular basis in Western countries.”

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