Rapists target lesbians in South Africa
Jess McCabe // 13 March 2009
Actionaid has published horrific evidence that rapists are targetting lesbians in South Africa with so-called “corrective rape”.
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.