'Corrective rape' - girl, 13, attacked
Johannesburg - A 13-year-old lesbian was raped in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, the department of justice and constitutional development said on Friday.
"Government condemns this senseless and cowardly act of criminality," department spokesperson Tlali Tlali said in a statement.
He said the girl, who was open about her sexuality, was raped in what seemed to be an act of "corrective rape" on Thursday.
According to activists, lesbian women are often victims of "corrective rape", which is forced sex with a man to "cure" their sexuality.
The department said every South African had the right to express themselves in the sexual orientation of their choice.
Tlali said police and the National Prosecuting Authority's sexual offences and community affairs unit would investigate the case.
The girl and her family would also receive assistance from the department of justice and the department of social development.
"Gay and lesbian rights are human and constitutional rights which must be protected and respected at all times," he said.
Last month, Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee, a gay rights group, was stoned to death in Kwa Thema township outside Johannesburg.
Human Rights Watch said evidence indicated Nogwaza was targeted because she was a lesbian.
It said the murder, which took place on April 24, appeared to be the latest in an "epidemic" of brutal homophobic attacks.
"Nogwaza's death is the latest in a long series of sadistic crimes against lesbians, gay men, and transgender people in South Africa," Dipika Nath, a researcher for the rights group, said in a statement on Tuesday.
At the time, police spokesperson Tshisikhawe Ndou said investigators did not consider the murder a hate crime.
"We do not have evidence to conclude that the crime was committed against her based on the fact of her sexual orientation. It is just purely murder and rape that we are investigating at this stage," he told Agence France Press.
Nogwaza's body was found in the same township where Eudy Simelane, a former midfielder for the national women's football side, was gang-raped and murdered in 2008.
Human Rights Watch said Nogwaza's murder was "eerily reminiscent" of 29-year-old Simelane's, for which two men were convicted in 2009.
"Both were 'out' as lesbians in the community, both were tortured and sexually assaulted before being killed, and the bodies of both were dumped in public places," it said.
Studies by the government-funded Medical Research Council in 2009 and 2010 found that one in four South African men admitted to committing rape, and one in three in north-central Gauteng province, where Nogwaza and Simelane were attacked.