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South Africa: Corrective rape is a hate crime

Corrective rape is a criminal practice, whereby men rape lesbian women, purportedly as a means of “curing” the woman of her sexual orientation. Despite South Africa being the first nation on earth to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, the first African country to legalize same-sex marriage and the world’s first republic to guarantee LGBT citizens equal rights in all realms of life (including adoption and military service), cases of corrective rape have been on the rise.


Luleki Sizwe
is a South African charity that works to rescue, support, feed and nurse to health survivors of corrective rape. Luleki Sizwe was founded in 2007 by community activist Ndumie Funda after her fiancée was the a victim of corrective rape.

According to Luleki Sizewe there are at least 10 gang rapes a week in Cape Town:

According to the organization, every week more than 10 lesbians are raped or gang raped in the city of Cape Town alone. 150 women are raped every day in South Africa and over the past decade 31 lesbians have been murdered because of their sexuality. 510 women report being the victims of ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa each year.

Luleki Sizwe created a petition on change.org targeting South African Justice Minister Jeffrey Radebe calling on the South African government to declare “Corrective Rape” a Hate-Crime that is punishable by the harshest sentences! At the time of writing, there were 63,994 signatures. The petition has become the most popular Change.org petition of all time:

This is now the most popular Change.org petition of all time! But what has the minister done in response? Absolutely nothing. That's about to change, with a new petition calling on Minister Radebe to meet with Luleki Sizwe founder Ndumie Funda. For regular updates on the ‘corrective rape’ campaign please ‘Like’ the Human Rights Facebook and Twitter pages and try to check in regularly.

There is a widespread belief that homosexuality is unAfrican and should be abolished:

However, there is a widespread belief that homosexuality is ‘unAfrican’; the assertion of ‘unAfricanness’ conceals a moral and cultural view that African societies are somehow unique and immune to what is perceived to be a Western and European import. The systematic vilification of homosexuality by several African leaders over the years has fuelled these perceptions, which are deeply rooted in culture and tradition.

Eudy Simelane, a football star in the South African national soccer team, was gang raped and then murdered in 2008. Thato Mpithi pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 32 years imprisonment in one of the most successful cases against corrective rape:

The long awaited judgment in the murder trial of lesbian activists and former Banyana Banyana player Eudy Simelane was concluded today in Delmas.Khumbulane Magagula,Johannes Mahlangu and Themba Mvubu faced the charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances,rape and murder Simelane.Thato Mphiti was convicted of the same crimes in February 2009 for the same crimes to 32 years imprisonment.

The South African the justice system is accused of failing the victims by letting the perpetrators out on ridiculously low bail:

Last month the South African authorities released Andile Ngcoza, a man who raped, beat up and strangled Millicent Gaika (pictured) for five hours to ‘turn her straight’, in a case that has been well covered by Change.org. Mr Ngcoza was released on R60 bail, the equivalent of less than $10. That led Ndumie Funda, who had helped Millicent Gaika recover from the rape and advocated for her case, to go into hiding.


Lesego Tlhwale argues that
corrective rape strips women off their basic human rights as enshrined in international laws:

South Africa for one is faced by a pandemic of violations against lesbian women called Corrective Rape, this form of violation is used to brutalise women by members of the opposite sex as a means to ‘correct’ their sexual orientation. This vile practice does not only violate women but also strips them off their basic human rights as enshrined in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other international laws.

Michael Jones argues that the practice should be a hate crime:

If the phrase “corrective rape” sounds jarring to you, it should. It's a brutal concept whereby straight people think that LGBT folks can be “cured” through forced sex. The practice has become systemic and widespread in South Africa, particularly against the lesbian community, with upwards of ten new cases of corrective rape being reported each week. And that's just in Cape Town alone.

Yet despite its heinous and vile nature, corrective rape is not considered a hate crime in South Africa. And that's something that a small yet vocal group of women want to change.

Corrective rape is primarily a black on black crime in South Africa perpetrated in small, poor townships, notes Pat Griffin:

Sadly, “corrective rape” is primarily a black on black crime in South Africa perpetrated in small, poor townships where the rapists and the women who are targeted often know each other. The rapists are rarely punished and the women must live with the probability of seeing their rapists or being taunted and threatened by them after the attack. Even though South Africa has a progressive constitution with legal protections for LGBT people, hatred and bigotry toward LGBT people is still alive and well.

There is always a danger in focusing on injustice in another culture. That danger is to fail to hold a mirror to one’s own culture and recognize the injustices at home. My intention in writing about “corrective rape” in South African is not to ignore anti-gay bigotry in the United States or to focus on black homophobia as opposed to white homophobia.


She posts a link
to a 16 minute video by Jeremy Schaap focusing on the phenomenon of “corrective rape” in South Africa.

According to James Quin, recently a US military general proposed corrective rape for lesbians in the US army:

Did you know Lesbianism can be cured by rape. Its true. In South Africa. Recently a US military general proposed the same thing for US military woman. Stop The Insanity.

In November 2010 African Activist reported about Millicent Gaika who faced her rapist in court:

Millicent Gaika was beaten and raped for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”. This week, in an act of extraordinary bravery, Millicent testified in court before her rapist.

US evangelists touring Africa should stop spewing “their garbage indictments negating the right to love” :

At the same time for as long as our own Government here in the USA continues to ignore our own desperate call for equality, and for as long as US Evangelical demons are set loose on African soil to spew their garbage indictments negating the right to love, we as a Nation are complicit in the crimes against humanity, for if we are no longer leaders qualified to call for an end to the hate, nor are we credible to impress upon ZUMA and MUGABE and the rest of Africa the Perils of such hate.

This is a roundup of corrective rape testimonies from the continent:

In October, I wrote about the Ugandan Rolling Stone, a newspaper that published the pictures, names and addresses of gays and lesbians in Uganda with the words “Hang Them” accompanying the photographs. As we await this decision, it’s really important to point out how the increasing incidences of violence against gay people in Africa include the grotesque practice of corrective rape, where women are raped, and in some cases, infected with HIV and/or made pregnant.

Two important stories that demonstrate the seriousness of this phenomenon are from survivors Sheila Hope Mugisha in Uganda and Millicent Gaika of South Africa.

Last year, ActionAid UK released a study documenting the rising use of corrective rape in South Africa.

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