To hear of human rights abuses of Ugandaâ€™s LGBTQ population is not new, sadly. Gay activist David Kato was the father of the Ugandaâ€™s LGBTQ rights movement. To many of his fellow countrymen Kato was a dead man walking once his homosexuality became public. The countryâ€™s Anti-Homosexuality Bill dubbed â€œKill the Gays billâ€ criminalizes same-sex relations. And depending on which category your homosexual behavior is classified as â€”â€aggravated homosexualâ€ or â€œthe offense of homosexualityâ€â€”youâ€™ll either received the death penalty or if youâ€™re lucky life imprisonment.
Kato didnâ€™t live to receive either punishment. On a list of 100 LGBTQ Ugandans whose names and photos were published in an October 2010 tabloid newspaper calling for their execution, Kato was murdered in January 2011.
Throughout the African continent there are stories of homophobic bullying, bashing and abuses of its LGBTQ population. None of us will forget Zimbabweâ€™s despot Robert Mugabe, who treated his LGBTQ citizens with torturous action, has yet to be brought to justice. Mugabeâ€™s condemnation of his LGBTQ population is that they are the cause of Zimbabweâ€™s problems and he views homosexuality as an â€œun-Africanâ€ and an immoral culture brought by colonists and practiced by only ‘a few whites’ in his country.”
However, the one country you donâ€™t expect to hear anti- LGBTQ rhetoric and human rights abuses from is South Africa.
South Africa is the first African country to openly support LGBTQ civil rights. In 2004 its Supreme Court ruled that the common-law definition of marriage included same-sex unions. And in 2005, South Africaâ€™s Constitutional Court â€œmade any inferior status imposed on same-sex partners unconstitutional.â€
But South Africa has a serious problem with its LGBTQ population, and especially with lesbians.
Its method to remedy its problem with lesbian is â€œcorrective rape.â€
On any given day in South Africa lesbians are twice as likely to be sexually molested, raped, gang-raped than heterosexual women. A reported estimate of at least 500 lesbians is victims of â€œcorrective rapeâ€ per year. And in Western Cape, a province in the south west of South Africa, a report put out by the Triangle Project in 2008 stated that as many as 86 percent of its lesbian population live in fear of being raped. And their fear is not unfounded.
â€œLesbians get raped and killed because it is accepted by our community and by our cultureâ€ a South African man told New York Times reporter Lee Middleton.
Corrective rape is the South African version of â€œreparative therapy.â€ Its intended objective is to rectify the sexual orientation of women who are lesbians or perceived to be lesbians to that of heterosexual.Â The term â€œcorrective rapeâ€ was coined and first identified in South Africa after well-known cases of corrective rapes of lesbians like Eudy Simelane and Zoliswa Nkonyana became public internationally. Because of the stigma associated with homosexuality and gender non-conforming behavior, members of the womenâ€™s family or their local village sometimes supervise these rapes.
Corrective Rape is a hate crime that for the most part goes unreported and unprosecuted in South Africa.
These rapes are the major contributor to HIV/AIDs epidemic among South African lesbians. To many South African men who hunt down lesbians or happened upon them â€œcorrective rapeâ€ is seen neither as a hate crime nor as a sexual assault. South African men are sexually entitled to do them. And itâ€™s just what patriotic men are expected to do for their country and tribe in a culture that upholds violent heterosexual patriarchal views at penis point.
In depicting a double rape, hers and that of her friendâ€™s, Lungile Cleopatra Dladla shared withThe New Yorker reporter Charlayne Hunter-Gault how matter-of-factly their rapist was with them.
â€œAn armed man, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, came up behind them and directed them to a field. Then he undressed us. He tied us, and then he was going, â€˜Ja, today I want to show you that youâ€™re girls. He raped [us] both. And then, immediately after, he dressed and untied my friendâ€™s hand and then untied my feet and then he walkedâ€¦. From a distance, he shouted, â€œNow you can dress and go.â€
Dubbed as the â€œRape Capitol of the Worldâ€ (A study by Interpol, the international police agency, has revealed that South Africa leads the world in rapes.) sexual violence is a problem throughout South Africa from the highest man in office to the goat herder in a small village.
According to South Africaâ€™s rape statistics for 2011â€it is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read.â€
In 2011 a woman was raped in South Africa every 17 seconds. 1 in 4 men admit to having rape and â€œof South African men who knew somebody who had been raped, 16 percent believed that the rape survivor had enjoyed the experience and had asked for it.
For example, South African President Jacob Zuma is a celebrated and acquitted rapist. He raped the daughter of a family friend. â€œHe said that the woman in question had provoked him, by wearing a skirt and sitting with her legs uncrossed, and that it was his duty, as a Zulu man, to satisfy a sexually aroused woman, â€œ Hunter-Gault reported.
And â€œbaby rape,â€ not a new phenomenon in South Africa, has come out of the closet. Itâ€™s the belief that having sex with a baby girl or virgin girl child cures AIDS.
But whatâ€™s not being talked about in â€œcorrective rapeâ€ is how it too can be seen as a cure for AIDS.
For these men who are feeling the societal pressures and scorn of raping babies and young girls, lesbians are the next best choice.
With both population of females believed to be virgins, â€œcorrective rapeâ€ can convince a rapistÂ Â that heâ€™s doing his manly duty and heâ€™s being rewarded by being cured of AIDS, too.