Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Gangs use rape to ‘cure’ lesbians

Gangs of South African men are raping lesbians in the belief it will ”cure” the women’s sexual orientation, an aid agency said on Friday.

NGO ActionAid said in a report titled Hate Crimes: the rise of corrective rape in South Africa lesbians were increasingly at risk of rape, particularly in South African townships where homosexuality is largely taboo.

South Africa has one of the world’s most progressive Constitutions and became the first country in Africa to allow gay marriage in 2006, but homosexuality is still widely frowned upon and same-sex unions are often decried as ”un-African”.

The brutal rape and murder last year of female soccer player Eudy Simelane, a lesbian, threw a spotlight on homophobic violence, particularly toward women.

”We get insults every day, beatings if we walk alone, you are constantly reminded that you deserve to be raped,” ActionAid quoted one lesbian as saying.

”They yell, ‘if I rape you then you will go straight, you will buy skirts and start to cook because you will have learnt how to be a real woman’.”

One lesbian and gay support group told ActionAid it was dealing with 10 new cases of lesbians being targeted for what it called ”corrective rape” every week in Cape Town alone.

Thirty-one lesbians have been reported murdered in homophobic attacks since 1998, but support groups say the actual number is probably much higher because crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are not recognised in the South African criminal justice system, ActionAid said.

Of the 31 cases, only two cases were brought to South African courts and there has been only one conviction. South Africa has one of the world highest rates of rape but activists say very few cases end in conviction, and women’s groups say police and the justice system have failed to tackle the problem.

ActionAid estimates there are 500 000 rapes in South Africa every year.

It said the police were particularly reluctant to investigate crimes against lesbians and said support for survivors was inadequate. — Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Rebecca Harrison
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Kenya’s beach boys fall into sex tourism, trafficking

In the face of their families’ poverty, young men, persuaded by the prospect of wealth or education, travel to Europe with their older female sponsors only to be trafficked for sex

High court reinstates Umgeni Water board

The high court has ruled that the dissolution of the water entity’s board by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was unfair and unprocedural

Mkhize throws the book at the Special Investigating Unit

It’s a long shot at political redemption for the former health minister and, more pressingly, a bid to avert criminal charges
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×