Monday, February 21, 2011

Al Jazeera: Lesbian 'Corrective' Rape
Rising in South Africa

My heart goes out to the South African women of any sexual orientation who are violated through rape and the tremendous stigma they face in confronting this social scourge. I am also very concerned with how lesbians are subjected to "corrective" rape in South Africa and the awful lack of support they receive after they are sexually assaulted.

These human rights violations are the subject of a story at the Al Jazeera web site, and I applaud them and their reporter Jonah Hull for bringing their network's resource to report on rape against women in South Africa. This reporting needs some attention in the USA gay community and I hope other blogs pick up on the Al Jazeera story.

Perhaps attention from news outlets, gay bloggers and human rights activists beyond South Africa's borders will bring some pressure to bear on the country to address this outrageous violation of a woman's right to personal safety.

I also want to salute the incredibly brave and courageous lesbians who have stepped out from the shadows, to go public about what they have suffered, and how they have survived and now need support.

Here are excerpts of the written part of Al Jazeera's coverage, followed by a video report on some of the women who have survived being raped and how they are coping with their recovery and search for justice:

In South Africa, sexual attacks against lesbians are growing in frequency. Lesbians are violently abused, ostensibly to cure them of their "unAfrican" predilection, to teach them that they are women and not men. They are raped, in other words, in order to turn them straight. It is known as "corrective" rape.

Last April, in a Cape Town township, Millicent Gaika became a victim of so-called corrective rape. Overpowered, trapped inside her shack, she was beaten and raped continuously for five hours. ...

... Since South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994 lesbians, along with their gay male counterparts, have become more open about their sexuality, embracing rights enshrined in one of the world's most advanced constitutions. But their rights are often paper thin, their communities have failed to embrace them back.

Campaign groups say more than 500 women report being victims of corrective rape each year. In recent years more than 30 such attacks have resulted in death. Yet despite a concerted effort by concerned groups to highlight the plight of lesbians in the townships, the South African government has failed to designate corrective rape a hate crime - something that would force the police and courts to take it far more seriously.

In Millicent's case, her alleged attacker was arrested and then released on bail of just $10. As he awaits trial, he has been able to threaten her life. She lives in constant fear. Statistically, there is just a one in 10 chance that he will be convicted. ....

This is the video coverage accompanying the text:

Sure would be great to see an American network - ABC, CBS, NBC - pick up on this reporting, or one of the cable stations look at rape in general in South Africa, and how it is use against lesbians. I want to watch such reporting from domestic news channels.

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