Millicent Gaika was the recent victim
of an alleged “corrective rape” in South Africa.
A US report on human rights around the world confirms that lesbians bear the brunt of abuse against the LGBT community in Southern Africa.
According to the 2009 Human Rights Report, compiled by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, while South Africa’s government “generally respected the human rights of its citizens,” there was “societal discrimination” against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in the country.
It highlights “hate crimes, gender violence targeting lesbians, and killings” and specifically mentions the murders of lesbians Eudy Simelane and Zoliswa Nkonyana.
The report also notes the Human Sciences Research Council’s 2008 finding that there was “widespread public intolerance of homosexuality activity, which was commonly labelled ‘un-African,’ with 80 percent of respondents believing sex between two same-gender persons was ‘wrong.'”
The phenomenon of “corrective” rape, in which women are raped as a means to “cure” them of their homosexuality is also reported to be growing in Zimbabwe; the report painting a dire picture of that nation’s LGBTI community.
It says that general homophobia and restrictive legislation in Zimbabwe made it difficult for members of the LGBT community to feel safe about being open about their sexuality in public.
“Because of significant social pressure, some families reportedly subjected men and women to “corrective” rape and forced marriages to encourage heterosexual conduct; the crimes were rarely reported to police. Women in particular were subjected to rape by male members of their own families,” notes the study.
It further reports that many members of the LGBT community did not seek medical care for sexually transmitted diseases or other health issues due to fear that health providers would shun them.