Corrective rape in South Africa: Zuma; why are you quiet? By JANET OTIENO | Monday, December 27  2010 at  16:13

Rape victims at Heal Africa Centre - Goma in DRC's North Kivu Province. Cases of corrective rape are on the rise in South Africa. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW 

What would become of heterosexuals if they would be randomly dragged to the back streets and violently raped to correct their sexual orientation?

Supposing homosexuals were the perpetrators of such acts, they would run out of luck, as the long arms of the law would easily catch up with them. This is because various African governments would act swiftly to save their citizenry from such “evil and foreign” abuse.

How about when the lesbians are gang-raped by some members of the opposite sex to turn them ‘straight’?

Well, this is what is happening to a number of lesbians in some South Africa’s townships.

Hate crime

Reports have it that over 30 lesbians have been murdered in the country in the course of thousands of the ‘corrective rapes’ over the last decade. At least 10 lesbians are gang-raped per week in Cape Town city alone, while 150 women are raped every day in the country.

Others have contracted sexually transmitted infections like HIV/Aids in the process, besides the assault that involves brutal methods like strangling of the victims.

The disquieting thing is that the survivors of these ordeals reportedly see their offenders every day as records have it that for every 25 men accused of rape in South Africa, 24 walk free. This is because if arrested at all, they are allegedly given low bail (as low as 60 Rand-less than $10) not to mention the long judicial processes and procedures.

An attempt by activists in the country to make the government address the issue has not yielded any result. Even the recent letter they sent to South Africa’s minister of Justice Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe, urging him to declare ‘corrective rape’ a hate crime, has not been replied.

Systematic vilification

As tears of these women continue to flow unnoticed, rapists are having a field day under the ‘watchful eyes’ of South African authorities, even though homosexuality is not illegal in the country.

Being the world’s first nation to guarantee equal rights to her lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, it is absurd that cases of ‘corrective rape’ are skyrocketing. Not to mention that it was the first country in the continent to legalise same-sex marriage.

Yes, African culture detests homosexuality and the systematic vilification by various leaders on the same is not a solid ground to be used to rape women with impunity because of their gender orientation. This is an abuse of their rights as human beings.

In essence, what is going on is rape, and it is time President Jacob Zuma’s administration considered this matter, introduced therapy services for the victims, arrested the perpetrators and slapped harsh sentences on them as deterrent. In fact, if harsher penalties are to be fairly assigned, then death sentence should be imposed on rapists and murderers.