In a photo series titled ‘Until You Change’, Ecuadorian photographer Paola Peredes has documented the brutality of the country’s torture clinics that claim to ‘cure’ homosexuality — using violence, sexual abuse, and persecution.
Disguised as religious “clinics”, these secret treatment facilities for alcoholics and drug addicts boast of treating and converting homosexuals — in the most brutal ways including emotional and physical torture through force-feeding, withholding of food, forced prayer, beatings, electric shock therapy, and corrective rape. Paola, herself a lesbian, told Huck Magazine.
“Since I was going through my own personal journey with my sexuality at the time, it affected me in a completely personal way. The thought that I could be locked up in one of these clinics myself lingered in my mind for years and I think, deep down, I knew I had to create something about it.”
In her attempt to take the viewer inside the secretive buildings, Paola went undercover, accompanied by her parents (who posed as potential clients), wearing a microphone hidden in her bra.
“What shocked me the most was when I saw the girls. They had been forced to wear makeup and my informants had described it perfectly: bright red lips, pink cheeks, and blue eye-shadow.”
Incorporating her emotions and first-hand experiences with theatrical methods to explore the abuse of women in these ‘clinics’, Paola decided to recreate the dreadful moments in her gripping photo series.
With first person accounts, she enlisted the help of friends and actors to re-enact scenes depicting the horrors that she had herself witness, imagining that she was being ‘treated’ and tortured for her sexuality.
“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.”
In the bathroom, a gay woman must be vigilant when mopping and scrubbing every surface with a toothbrush. She must pick up all the hairs on the floor. If she makes a mistake, an orderly pushes her bare hand into the toilet bowl and holds her down until it is clean.