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Lesbians Viscously Targeted and Raped in South Africa

Lesbians Viscously Targeted and Raped in South Africa

In township's throughout South Africa, women are being targeted for violence, rape, and murder, all the while being told by attackers that it is because they are lesbians they are being attacked in a practice known as "corrective rape."

Former star professional football player Eudy Simelane was murdered brutally in last April. The equal rights campaigner and first out lesbian in her township of Kwa Thema had been gang-raped and stabbed twenty five times. 

Sadly, Simelane is just one of countless victims in a country where lesbians are targets for violence and murder.  Aide workers in the region explain, "What we're seeing is a spike in the numbers of women coming to us having been raped and who have been told throughout the attack that being a lesbian was to blame for what was happening to them," according to Vanessa Ludwig, the chief executive at Triangle.

Activist groups like the Human Rights Watch have called on the government to protect these women and adapt their laws. A report calls for South Africa's criminal justice system to recognize hate crimes, including “corrective rape”, as a separate crime category.

But, a statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority ignored the plea, stating, "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."

One resident, Zakhe Sowello from Soweto told the UK’s The Guardian Newspaper, "every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I’ll become a girl. When you are raped you have a lot of evidence on your body. But when we try and report these crimes nothing happens, and then you see the boys who raped you walking free on the street."

Despite the rash of violence and plainly stated hate crimes, Simelane’s trial was the fist to herald a conviction. One of the attackers pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison, but upon sentencing, the South African judge stated her sexual preference had “no significance” in the brutal murder.

Another local woman told the paper “practically every” lesbian in her community has been a victim of this blatant violence in the past few years. She explained, "every day you feel like its a time bomb waiting to go off.” The young woman, identified as Phulma, continued to describe the dire circumstances, where the women, “don't have freedom of movement, you don't have space to do as you please. You are always scared and your life always feels restricted. As women and as lesbians we need to be very aware that it is a fact of life that we are always in danger."

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Lily Shavick