with upwards of ten new cases of corrective rape being reported each week. And that's just in Cape Town alone.
Yet despite its heinous and vile nature, corrective rape is not considered a hate crime in South Africa. And that's something that a small yet vocal group of women want to change.
Meet Luleki Sizwe, a charity organized in the townships of Cape Town, with the goal of providing immediate assistance to victims of corrective rape. As Benjamin Joffe-Walt writes on Change.org's Human Rights blog, Luleki Sizwe provides safe houses and medical care for victims, puts on trainings and educational programs, and fosters community for women who have either been victimized or live in fear of being attacked because of their sexual orientation. Now, Luleki Sizwe is focusing in on South Africa's Justice Minister, Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe, urging him to declare corrective rape a hate crime.
Nothing quite illustrates the urgency of Luleki Sizwe's campaign that the story of Millicent Gaika. Millicent was walking home on a Friday night, when she was approached by a man who asked her for a smoke. Within minutes, Millicent would be locked in an apartment as this man beat her, tortured her, screamed at her, and raped her for five hours.
"I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you," the man yelled at her.
Last month Millicent's assailant, Andile Ngcoza, was released on 60 rand bail, which is about the equivalent of $10.00. Meaning for the price of two large drinks at Starbucks, you can buy your way out of prison for raping a woman for five hours and threatening to kill her because she's lesbian.
Millicent's story is, tragically, one of many. So, too, is Eudy Simelane's, a champion lesbian soccer player who was gang raped by three men and stabbed in the face and chest 25 times. She was later thrown in a ditch, where authorities found her dead body. Or Anelisa Mfo's, a lesbian mother who was attacked in 2007 and raped by a man who held a gun to her head while calling her "slut" and "bitch."
Such brutality, and yet the government of South Africa doesn't recognize these acts as hate crimes?
Back in 2009, South Africa's national prosecuting authority went on record saying, "While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project."
How many more attacks on women will it take before South Africa's government acts? Ten women raped each week in Cape Town isn't enough? Thirty-one lesbian women being murdered in the past decade, solely because of their sexual orientation, isn't enough? More to the point, how can South Africa's government live with the fact that for every 25 men accused of rape, a staggering 24 walk free?
Lend your voice to the work of Luleki Sizwe right here. In every sense of the word, corrective rape is motivated by violent hatred. It should be labeled as such, especially by a government that is supposed to represent one of the foremost human rights success stories of the past 30 years.
petition text -
Minister Radebe: Declare "Corrective Rape" a Hate-Crime
Dear Sir, Hon Minister of Justice Radebe,
I am an activist for an NGO called Luleki Sizwe in Gugulethu, and am currently covering and supporting the criminal proceedings of a victim of corrective-rape, Millicent Gaika. (http://lulekisizwe.wordpress.com/)
Millicent Gaika was raped, beaten up and strangled for five hours purely because she is a lesbian, by Andile Ngoza, in order to "turn her straight"
Millicent explained that she and her friends were walking home after visiting another friend. The man, whom she said she had known for a number of years and who had never objected to her sexuality before, asked her for a cigarette. She stayed to smoke with him, and followed him into his room when he refused to pass the cigarette to her.
According to her he then locked the door and started hitting her while she tried to fight back.
“He pulled off my clothes and pushed me down on the bed. He was holding me down, strangling me with the wire and pushing his hands hard onto my neck.” She added that he threatened to kill her and throw her body in the river. “I thought I was gonna die”.
He kept saying to her, “I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man. You think you are, but I am going to show you are a woman. I’m gonna make you pregnant you are going to carry a baby for me.”
Millie went on to say “I really hate myself right now – Andile has killed me big time. I really hate men, honestly! Why me, why me?”
Mr Minister, since that time the court-case has been postponed numerous times, and Andile is out on bail, roaming the same streets where Millie lives, which has forced her to go into hiding - the courtcase has again been postponed to February 2011.
On 16 November, 2010 I received a phone call from a visibly shaken Ndumie Funda, the founder and mainstay of Luleki Sizwe, saying that she had just had a run-in with Andile Ngcoza, the man who raped Millicent Gaika! He is forbidden to enter Gugulethu as part of his bail conditions, and has constantly broken those conditions, threatening Ndumie various times ~ this time Ndumie called the police and he was arrested! Here are Ndumie’s own words….
Today its one of the unforgettable day in my life it was round about 11am in the morning ,i was walking with my partner in Gugulethu mall .My car was parked at the Campwell hardware so as we where near the car my partner noticed that someone was so looking at me with those you know angry eyes,he came closer so i press the mobilizer .Andile Ngcoza came to me straight he was looking at me and he went to passenger’s sit were my partner was sitting also steering at her the after her he was looking at my car number plate,I then quickly called the police and the investigating officer .they arrived immediately and he got arrested ,We went drove to the Gugulethu were the investigating officer together with the police to our statement .It was said that he was not supposed to set his feet in Gugulethu so there he violated his bail conditions and his back in jail."
Andile was back on the streets within a day or two - on R60 bail!!
Since his release he has asked family and friends to attack Ndumie Funda, he has constantly harassed her and made threats against her life, and against her partner! This has forced Ndumie to go into hiding, which in turn had a devastating effect on the women she is helping...another corrective-rape victim, Bulelwa, committed suicide last week because she could get no help, and Ndumie was in fear for her life so could not help her either, and she is about the only help most of these young women have!
Sir, we have just entered the period of "16 Days of Activism against Woman & Child Abuse" with much fanfare about what the government is going to do, yet the same government is doing nothing about corrective rape, of which it is aware!
We see much ado in the press about who called whom what, and who wants apologies for what from whom; who sings what songs, etc etc. but NOTHING about the heinous crime of Corrective Rape!
According to the South African Constitution, everyone has the same rights, yet the Government is not protecting lesbian women before they are raped by publicly taking a stance against Corrective Rape, and the Justice System is failing the victims of Corrective Rape after, by not offering them protection, by allowing these violent criminals out on ridiculously low amounts of bail, by refusing the friends, family or Press into the court-room during the trial, where the victim is forced to face her rapist/attacker on her own and re-live her terrible experience...
Sir I entreat you on bended knees to:
1) Please take up our cause, and to publicly decry this thing called corrective rape, and to lobby for it to be classified as a hate-crime, with only the harshest of sentences.
2) Investigate as to why Andile Ncoza was let out on bail, after being caught in the act and held by neighbours until the police arrived.
3) Investigate as to why he was let out on R60 bail again, after contravening his conditions of bail and threatening Millicent Gaika, her family, and Ndumie Funda and her partner
4) Please respond to me urgently, regarding the above, detailing what is going to be done to stop this heinous crime and to protect the victims of it and those that assist them.
[Your name here]