South Africa has one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world as regards Homosexuals and Lesbians (see article Gay and lesbian rights – SA Constitution), yet the reality on the ground is that both are readily persecuted for their sexuality. Chief amongst these persecutions is the custom of “Corrective Rape” of lesbians, and the history of violence against lesbians in South Africa is long and shameful. To be a woman in South Africa, means to be a target. To be a lesbian means to be a prime target.
In the last 10 years:
- 31 lesbian women have been murdered because of their sexuality
- More than 10 lesbians a week are raped or gang raped in Cape Town alone
- 150 women are raped every day in South Africa
- For every 25 men accused of rape in South Africa, 24 walk free
“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.”
Source: Hate crimes: the rise of “corrective” rape in South Africa (actionaid.org)
‘Corrective Crime‘ should be classified as hate crime because it is going far beyond ‘common’ rape (not as if rape could be common at all).
In a land where 80% of the grown-ups reject homosexuality, the international call to declare and to fight ‘corrective rape‘ as a hate crime may appear as a cultural and moral corrective itself. Summoning this kind of cultural argument with FGM – the female genital mutilation, predominantly in Sub-Saharan Africa -, we start to develop some kind of queer respect and ‘cultural’ understanding towards the perpetrators. Do we develop such towards rapists, too? And if it is about lesbians, we often refer to our religious beliefs. Can they really serve as the base of crime justification? In one of the videos linked the mother of murdered Eudy Simelane puts the matter very simple:
“We must accept our children. What they like, it’s up to them. We are not God to stop them.”
So think twice before you decide to sign one or both of the following petitions. By this you might start to acknowledge the urgent need to fight and to end FGM as well. Or to respect girls and women and our black sistren, in particular.
Sign the petitions!
South Africa: Declare ‘Corrective Rape a Hate-Crime! (Change.org)
South Africa: Stop ‘Corrective Rape’! (Avaaz.org)