Zulema Constante, 22, had seemingly disappeared. She had been gone for three weeks when her high school friends, her girlfriend, and her classmates at the Catholic University in Guayaquil started a social media campaign to try to find her.
Yesterday she spoke at a press conference about her three week ordeal.
On May 17, her parents had invited her out to lunch. She left work and joined them in the family vehicle but 300 metres later the car was cut off by another, and five people disembarked. They grabbed Zulema, handcuffed her, and drove her to Tena, in the jungle, seven hours away. She was locked up in the “Feminine Therapeutic Unit of Hope,” associated with Narcotics Anonymous.
Zulema says that as soon as she arrived, she was taken to a chapel and forced to pray. She says they fed her food that was rotten, forced her to clean toilets with nothing but her hands, and told her how bad it was to be a lesbian.
At the press conference yesterday, she called for the closure of “de-homosexualizing” clinics that exist in Ecuador.
“I’m a lesbian. I’m not sick,” she said. “These ‘clinics’ where they hold you against your will and try to ‘cure’ you are a human rights abuse.”
Silvia Buendía, activist and lawyer, says Zulema’s case has already produced two legal processes: one of them is against the parents as alleged authors of their daughter’s disappearance. A third claim is expected to be filed against the clinic now Zulemas story is public.