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Mounting violence against LGBT groups in South Africa


Summary of article from the Global Post, October 5, 2011

LGBT activists in South Africa say incidents of ‘corrective rape’ in which lesbians are raped to ‘correct’ their sexual orientation appear to be on the rise (see WVoN coverage).

There may also be a ‘copycat effect’ occurring, said Dipika Nath, a researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Program.

“As news of attacks spread, people may get inspired or learn to do the same in their communities,” she said.

Media outlets around the world have reported that up to 10 lesbians a week are raped in Cape Town alone. But Nath adamantly refutes the number, saying “there is no evidence anywhere” to support it.

The lack of solid statistics has led to a conflating of “corrective rape” with all forms of violence against lesbians and to the reporting of sensational and unsubstantiated claims about the extent of the problem, reported the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights last June.

“Rape is rape,” said Bulelwa Panda, manager of iThemba Lam, a Christian center for reconciliation and healing that operates a safe house for LGBT people in Oliver Tambo Village outside Cape Town.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight. At the end of the day, you’re a woman.”

Although the South African constitution is one of the most progressive in the world, the reality on the ground is very different.

“We have won so many rights to love more freely, but it hasn’t protected our bodily integrity,” said Melanie Judge, a lesbian activist, social commentator and executive committee member of the Coalition for African Lesbians.

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