hear of human rights abuses of Uganda’s
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ)
population is, sadly, not new. Gay activist, David
Kato, was the father of the Uganda’s LGBTQ rights movement. To many of his
fellow countrymen, Kato was a dead man walking once
his homosexuality became public.
country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill dubbed “Kill the
Gays bill” criminalizes same-sex relations. And depending
on which category your homosexual behavior is classified
as - “aggravated homosexual” or “the offense of homosexuality”-you’ll
either received the death penalty or if you’re lucky,
As many as 86 percent of
its lesbian population live in fear of being raped
didn’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
the African continent there are stories of homophobic
bullying, bashing and abuses of its LGBTQ population.
None of us will forget Zimbabwe’s despot, Robert
Mugabe, whose torturous action against his LGBTQ population
has yet to be brought to justice. Mugabe’s condemnation
of his LGBTQ population is that they are the cause
problems” and views homosexuality as an “un-African”
and immoral culture brought by colonists and practiced
by only “a few whites” in his country”
the one country one doesn’t expect to hear of anti-LGBTQ
rhetoric and human rights abuses against this population
of people 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 Africa’s Constitutional Court “made any inferior status
imposed on same-sex partners unconstitutional.”
South Africa has a serious
problem with its LGBTQ population, and especially
its method to remedy its problem with lesbian is “corrective
any given day in South
Africa, lesbians are twice as
likely to be sexually molested, raped and gang-raped
as heterosexual women. A reported estimate of at least
500 lesbians is victims of “corrective rape” 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.
get raped and killed because it is accepted by our
community and by our culture” a South African man
told Time reporter, Lee Middleton, of Cape
rape is the South African version of “reparative therapy.”
It’s intended objective is
to rectify the sexual orientation of women who are
lesbians or perceived to be lesbians to that of heterosexual.
The term “corrective rape” 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 women’s family or their local
village sometimes supervise these rapes.
Rape is a hate crime that for the most part goes unreported
and unprosecuted in South
these rapes are the major contributor to HIV/AID epidemic
among South African lesbians.
many South African men who hunt down lesbians or happen
upon them, “corrective rape” is seen neither as a
hate crime nor as a sexual assault. South African
men are sexually entitled to do them. And it’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.
depicting a double rape, hers and that of her friend’s,
Lungile Cleopatra Dladla
shared with The New Yorker reporter, Charlayne
Hunter-Gault, how matter-of-factly
their rapist was with them.
It’s just what patriotic
men are expected to do for their country and tribe
“An 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, ‘Ja,
today I want to show you that you’re girls.’ He raped
[us] both. And then, immediately after, he dressed
and untied my friend’s hand and then untied my feet
and then he walked…. From a distance, he shouted,
‘Now you can dress and go.’”
as the “Rape Capitol of the World,” (A study by Interpol,
the international police agency, has revealed that
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
to South Africa’s
rape statistics for 2011, “it is estimated that a
woman born in South Africa has a greater
chance of being raped than learning how to read.”
2011, a woman was raped in South
Africa every 17 seconds. 1 in
4 men admit to having raped and of 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.
example, South African President Jacob Zuma
is a celebrated and acquitted rapist. He raped the
daughter of a family friend. “He 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,” Hunter-Gault reported.
“baby rape,” not a new phenomenon in South
Africa, has come out of the closet.
It’s the belief that having sex with a baby girl or
virgin girl child cures AIDS.
what’s not being talked about in “corrective rape”
is how it, too, can be see as a cure for AIDS.
these men who are feeling the societal pressures and
scorn of raping babies and young girls, lesbians are
the next best choice.
both population of females believed to be virgins,
“corrective rape” can convince a rapist that he’s
doing his manly duty and he’s being rewarded by being
cured of AIDS, too.
Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion
columnist, theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of
the African-American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and
Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the
Pacific School of Religion. A native of Brooklyn, Rev. Monroe is a
graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological
Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor
at an African-American church before coming to Harvard
Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow.
She was recently named to MSNBC’s list of 10 Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author
of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible Prayers
for Not’So’Everyday Moments.
As an African-American feminist theologian, she speaks
for a sector of society that is frequently invisible.
Click here to contact
the Rev. Monroe.