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Corrective rape in South Africa

April 14, 2009

I was listening to NPR (my station is Chicago Public Radio WBEZ 91.5) the other day and heard a segment about corrective rape in South Africa. When the South Africa constitution was written in 1996, the country became the fifth country to outlaw discrimination against LGBT people. But we know that the law does not equal reality from our experiences in the U.S.’s imperfect democracy.

Corrective rape is when a man rapes a lesbian to “cure” them of their sexuality. This happens all over the world, but in particular, in South Africa where there have been recent news about this outbreak of corrective rapes.  Last year, one of South Africa’s most famous football (or soccer) stars and LGBT rights activist, Eudy Simelane, was raped and murdered in her home in KwaThema, Springs Gauteng.

Support groups in Cape Town, South Africa report that 10 corrective rape cases happen per week just in that city alone. The majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are not convicted because rape is the lowest reported violent act in South Africa (see HRC’s Sexual Violence in South Africa).

Why is this act aimed towards black lesbians? The Guardian wrote an article a month ago about corrective rape in South Africa. A woman interviewed for this article named Carrie Shelver, who works for a women’s rights group in South Africa called Powa, responds to that question:

When asking why lesbian women are being targeted you have to look at why all women are being raped and murdered in such high numbers in South Africa. So you have to look at the increasingly macho culture, which seeks to oppress women and sees them as merely sexual beings. So when there is a lesbian woman she is an absolute affront to this kind of masculinity.

The perpetrator’s behavior, which Shelver explains above, is the core of the issue.  This macho culture and attitude towards women that is playing out in violent acts in South Africa needs to stop. Note the video below, which is a good example of the macho culture in South Africa:

Clearly the South African Constitution cannot change attitudes or behavior, but does have an anti-discrimination law. When does the law step in and prosecute those who are participating in hateful, discriminatory crimes? When will women not live in fear?

You can take action by telling the South African government what you think! Urge South African President Kgalema Motlanthe to deem “corrective” rape a hate crime! To sign the Care2 petition, visit here.

See also a post about this on the blog Gays Without Borders.

Sources: The Guardian, Modern Ghana, Out in Africa

  1. Donna permalink
    April 18, 2009 11:05 am

    I had not idea that this form of rape existed! How sad!
    Thank you for the informative post about this.

  2. Zander permalink
    April 19, 2009 12:15 pm

    Yeah.. me 2… never knew that such a thing existed

  3. June 14, 2009 8:51 am

    I try to keep up on world events, but never knew “CORRECTIVE RAPE” was considered such a low crime in South Africa. I’ve known since the late 1970’s all the blood shed within that Country, but it’s amazing how little regard other countries show show toward their own citizens, especially women and children.

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