Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Corrective" rape continues in South Africa

In March 2009, The Guardian featured a news story about lesbians in South Africa who were being raped and sexually assaulted, targeted because of their sexuality. A "corrective" rape, if you will. The story said that Triangle, a gay rights group, was "dealing with up to 10 new cases of 'corrective rape' every week." As if the rapes alone aren't bad enough, these women are also dealing with a government and police force basically looking the other way. The government even admitted it wasn't a priority. According to the story, "A statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority said: 'While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritised as a specific project.'"

In August 2009, Change.org reported the story, "The Phenomenon of Corrective Rape in South Africa." In discussing a BBC article on the subject, they say "rape has become almost a game for many South African men - so much so that celebrated terms have popped up to crown a man who initiates a gang rape. Which might explain why 1 in 4 men have admitted to being involved in rape."

In November 2009, Sky News also reported on this story. One woman who had been raped said "the police did not even bother to finish taking a statement" from her. Men were reported to have said "they approved of lesbians being raped to 'correct' them and to 'teach them a lesson,'" and that "'women should behave like women' and this was a way of 'teaching' them that."

Sure sounds like nothing has changed in those eight months ... or ever, since this "trend" popped up years ago.

I don't need to explain how wrong this is, do I? I mean, let's assume for two seconds that one could "change" someone's sexuality. (I do not believe that possible, for the record.) Obviously forcing them to have sex against their will is not the way to do it. Rape is a weapon, not a teaching tool. You take a woman who likes women, have a man (or men) rape her, and then expect her to like men? No, no and no. This, to me, is obviously not about "correcting" a woman's sexuality, but punishing them for their sexuality. And it has to stop. Women aren't only being raped, they're being murdered.

But what do we do about it? I'm not sure. Shakesville suggests e-mailing the South African Ministry of Justice. I would suggest donating to Triangle (though I don't see a "donation" link at quick glance). There is also an ongoing petition by Care2 to "End 'Corrective' Rape of Lesbians in South Africa," with a letter that can be sent to the president of South Africa. Any other ideas or suggestions of what can be done to not only stop this, but also draw more attention to it?

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