Rape is not a weapon, tool or method: Corrective Rape

2013-06-12 06:34

While we are aware that in South Africa we have high rape statistics and that there is a very large problem of apathy in society, what’s more disturbing is that rape is used as a tool to achieve an end.

Corrective rape is a term that originated in South Africa and refers to when a homosexual person (usually lesbian) is raped in order to make them heterosexual. This is meant to fix or cure those who are homosexual.

It is at this point where one experiences shock in that this occurrence pulls what is essentially sexual violence, into the realm of a hate crime. There is no shortage of violence and conflict in Africa but this takes on a form of its own – the multi-faceted nature of corrective rape is in my mind in the same league as using rape and the spreading of HIV/AIDS as a weapon of war; something that the African stories of conflict is ridden with.

In my most recent blog I discussed the issue of Nigeria looking to outlaw homosexual marriage and what ripple effect thereof would be in that South Africa – which is more tolerant – is building ties with Nigeria. I mention this because the South African phenomenon of ‘Corrective Rape´ is damaging in itself but as all things do – it too has a spill over effect in terms of sentiment about rape as well as homosexuality.

The fact is that in Africa there is a social intolerance for homosexuality that is vast and having legislation that reinforces such intolerance only drives this further from resolution and us as Africans further from a point where we can truly share in the spoils and beauty of Africa.

Statistically it is speculated that half of all South African women will be raped at least once in their lives, while we are aware that in reality many women are raped numerous times. We cannot know the difference between rape and corrective rape statistics in that they are not distinguished upon recording of the incidents, however; it should not be considered as isolated incidents or exceptional cases when these cases do come to light.

Beyond the fact that this is a violent crime it also is a violation of both human rights and human dignity.

As people who have the very hefty and important task of building a South Africa and Africa that is prosperous and safe for our future generations to live in, we cannot afford to fester hatred and allow for issues like xenophobia, racism and homophobia (to name only a few) to fester as the results are violent outbursts.

We have a history of conflict and suspicion that makes our efforts to move forward more complex, yet it should not define the way we think exclusively.

If we think ‘us versus them’ then we begin to talk that talk and walk that walk and once hatred has been acted on and someone’s dignity has been eroded, it becomes more and more difficult to pursue the South Africa and Africa that we envisage for the future.

The solution neither lies in our being silent and blissfully unaware of the issues that are pulling at the foundation of our society – such as UBUNTU. In our awareness of the issues and willingness to engage the issue, we will find what we need to move towards in addressing it.

Please share with me your thoughts on the matter of corrective rape: @AnnekeScheepers

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