The New Rape
“Corrective” rape: the use of sexual assault to “cure” lesbians in South Africa.
This is the latest wave of gender-based violence and human rights violations against a particularly marginalized group of women on the continent. According to Kerry Frizzelle (The Guardian), it is also an example of “double-discrimination” against women who also happen to be lesbian, as well as an event which allows the rapist to claim a woman’s ‘abnormal’ sexual orientation to legitimize the act of rape.
A report titled “Hate Crimes: The Rise of Corrective Rape in South Africa” was recently released by the NGO Action Aid in conjunction with the South African Human Rights Commission. The report shows that “corrective” rape is quickly establishing itself as the most brutal form of attack against lesbian women in the country but more importantly, it “condemns the culture of impunity around these crimes, which it says are going unrecognised by the state and unpunished by the legal system.”
In South Africa, no woman is safe from violence. The country’s war against its women continues unabated, with an estimated 500,000 rapes, hundreds of murders and countless beatings inflicted every year. For every 25 men accused of rape in South Africa, 24 walk free.
This shameful record has resulted in an increasingly brutal and oppressive culture of male violence, in which women are forced to conform or suffer the consequences.
As part of this oppression, the country is now witnessing a backlash of crimes targeted specifically at lesbian women, who are perceived as representing a direct threat to a male-dominated society.
… Support groups say that rape is fast becoming the most widespread hate crime targeted against gay women in townships 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.
It is under this shameful culture of intolerance coupled with that of pervasive male violence that lesbian women have suffered, many assaulted and even brutally murdered as was lesbian football player Eudy Simelane in April 2008. In the short video titled “Why we rape lesbians: They are not normal like us,” survivors of sexual violence speak out on their experiences of “corrective” assaults, while others provide their views on the role of violence in “straightening” out gay women.
For more discussion on LGBTI issues in Africa, please visit Blacklooks.