Rapists target lesbians in South Africa

// 13 March 2009

Actionaid has published horrific evidence that rapists are targetting lesbians in South Africa with so-called “corrective rape”.

Lesbilicious reports:

Rape is fast becoming the most widespread hate crime targeted against gay women across South Africa.

One lesbian and gay support group says it is dealing with 10 new cases of lesbian women being targeted for ‘corrective’ rape every week in Cape Town alone.

You can read the Actionaid press release here:

Zanele Twala, Director of ActionAid South Africa, said: “So-called ‘corrective’ rape is yet another grotesque manifestation of violence against women, the most widespread human rights violation in the world today. These crimes continue unabated and with impunity, while governments simply turn a blind eye.”

Thirty one lesbian women have been reported murdered in homophobic attacks since 1998. But support groups stress that because hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are not recognised in the South African criminal justice system, the actual number of women killed is likely to be much higher.

The murderers are walking free. Of the 31 cases, only two have ever made it to the South African courts and there has been only one conviction.

Tsidi, a hate crime survivor from Cape Town said: “Here in South Africa you have judges sending women to jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed her baby, but men who gang rape women, who murder lesbians… they walk the streets as free men.”

South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, guaranteeing the rights of gay and lesbian people. However, the South African legal system has not caught up. Hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are not recognised by South African law and the courts refuse to recognise that it plays any part in these cases. The police are reluctant to investigate hate crimes against lesbian women and there is inadequate support for the survivors.

One lesbian woman said: “We get insults every day, beatings if we walk alone, you are constantly reminded that…you deserve to be raped, they yell, if I rape you then you will go straight, that you will buy skirts and start to cook because you will have learnt how to be a real woman.

“It is clear that the South African government must put a stop to these crimes against women and fulfil the promises of the constitution. Worldwide, it is utterly unacceptable that millions of women and girls live daily in fear of their lives. The international community have a duty to address violence against women as the most serious threat to security in the world today,” Ms Twala said.

Take action by emailing the South African Department of Justice.

Comments From You

rita // Posted 14 March 2009 at 8:33 pm

I just feel a great sense of helplessness for those fighting against this crime and for those victimised. I say this because unfortunately now in africa(i will generalise, but if any country in africa the attitude is not the same, correct me please and i apologise in advance), gay people are not accepted. The laws mean nothing in africa in most cases. The government might pass laws to prevent it, but because the majority of the people are still ignorant of the gay concept because of traditional cultural values and religion, they will still discriminate the gay people. Some people believe that it is a white man’s concept, even if they know it has always existed. It is a long battle on everyone’s hands. I remember when i was at home i always believed that gay people were totaly accepted in the western world, and was totally shocked to find out otherwise. I have heard a few stories about the discrimination of gay people here in the past and it seems it used to be bad and has improved with time (i am not sure of the severity of discrimination then). And i think, africa has a long and painful battle on their hands especially when there are factors that will hinder that progress eg, the availability of media coverage to those who cannot afford it, corruption etc.. Even while i write this post, i feel a lack of energy and a great sense of helplessness. It’s a painful article to read i must say.

Alice // Posted 15 March 2009 at 8:43 pm

This is a disgusting state of affairs. I knew there was a high level of rape in South Africa, but I had no idea that this happened. I’m appalled. When will people grasp the concept that being gay is NOT a choice, & that you can’t “turn” someone gay/straight? Even if you could, I doubt ANY lesbian would have a high opinion of men after going through such a dreadful ordeal.

Alex T // Posted 16 March 2009 at 8:14 pm

Ugh, this makes me feel physically sick :(

D.M. Malan // Posted 17 March 2009 at 9:24 pm

Crime in general is a scourge in South Africa, and the ruling government doesn’t care about it at all. Just look at what sentiments our Safety and Security Minister expressed not that long ago to “whingers” who dared point out their negligence on the matter:


Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds