LESBIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA BEING RAPED TO “CURE” THEM OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 5 Mar 2010
The group ActionAid released a report about the shocking rise in homophobic attacks and murders in South Africa, especially Johannesburg and Cape Town where lesbian women are being raped as a “corrective” punishment for being gay.
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.
Laura Turquet, ActionAid’s women’s rights coordinator, 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.”
Since 1998 31 women have been reported murdered in homophobic attacks, they say, but the actual number is likely much higher. Of those 31, only 2 of their attackers have ever been to court and there has only been one conviction.
ActionAid reports that although South Africa has a progressive constitution that guarantees equal rights to gay and lesbian people, the legal system still lags far behind. “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,” says ActionAid. “The police are reluctant to investigate hate crimes against lesbian women and there is inadequate support for the survivors.”
The attacks against lesbians are also part of a larger culture of violence of against women — there is an estimated 500,000 rapes a year and only 1 in 25 men are ever convicted.
Tara Lohan is a senior editor at AlterNet and heads up the Environment, Food and Water coverage. She is the editor of Water Consciousness: How We All Have to Change to Protect Our Most Critical Resource from AlterNet Books.
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