Rights activists are speaking out
against rapes targeting lesbians in South Africa.
About 5 demonstrators rallied outside parliament Monday while
their leaders met with government representatives.
Luleki Sizwe, which means "guide a nation," a small group of
lesbian activists in the townships of Cape Town, also circulated an
online petition calling on Justice Minister Jeff Radebe "to address
corrective rape,' the increasingly common hate crime in which men
rape lesbian women to 'turn' them straight or 'cure' them of their
In three months, the organization gathered more than 170,000
signatures around the world. The online campaign also led thousands
to send e-mails to Radee.
Luleki Sizwe founder Ndumie Funda said: "We have shown that we
can mobilize tens of thousands of people in South Africa and around
the world, and the ministry now knows that they can no longer ignore
our long fight against corrective rape. The question now is what
they will actually do about it. The bal is in their court."
Activists are pushing the ministry to set up a commission to
research, develop and implement a national plan to address sexual
violence, violence that targets lesbians and gays and hate crimes.
"We want the government to label corrective rape .. as a hate
crime," said Eugene Brockman, one of the demonstrators at
Same-sex marriage is legal in South Africa and the country has
among the most liberal laws on sexual orientation on a continent
where many others ban gay sex. But the rapes in South Africa are a
brutal sign that cultural atttudes remain deeply conservative.
The most notorious cases include the 2008 death of Eudy Simelane,
a star on South Africa's women's national soccer team. Simelane, a
lesbian, was gang raped, beaten and stabbed. Two men were jailed,
while two others were acquitted in the attack.