In 1996, South Africa became the first in the world to provide constitutional protection for LGBT people. South Africa is also the only African country on the continent that recognizes same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, there is a rise in the attacks against the LGBT community, especially lesbians. These attacks against lesbians are known as corrective rape, which is when a man rapes a lesbian in thought that the action of rape will turn that person straight. One 26-year-old lesbian living in Cape Town stated that “Men do it because they hate what we are. The feel threatened by us.”
One example of corrective rape in South Africa was a five-hour-long brutal rape that consisted of beatings and strangling of a young lesbian by the name of Millicent Gaika. She survived the attack and her rapist Andile Ngcoza was arrested and found guilty for rape. Although, he was arrested his bail was set at six dollars and he escaped prosecution.
Another example of a LGBT hate crime occurred this year. David Olyn, a 21-year-old gay man was beaten with bricks and burned to death in South Africa, as a group of teens watched. Accordingly, the teens were not shocked at this behavior because this is something that is a weekly occurrence. Therefore, the teens did not tell authorities.
Due to these horrific events the United Nations has launched a program called Free the Equal in 2013. This program is an effort to create an education program aimed at promoting respect for the LGBT community in South Africa.
South Africa does have the best recognition for gay rights on the continent, but these brutal attacks and rapes are still on the rise. However, the South African government is taking steps to combat the hate crimes and violence. These steps include the proper training of officials for the LGBT community’s needs. A young woman in the South African LGBT community stated that “Lots of my friends have been raped for being a lesbian. It is not an unusual thing.” Furthermore, new laws are being implemented to send the message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in South Africa.
How can the United States help with the South African government’s aid in combating LGBT violence? The United States has been working with prosecutors for the past decade in legal protection for LGBT rights. The United States can lend a hand in the South Africa government by showing correct methods used for training and prosecution for the protection of the LGBT community in South Africa and also share the experience from the past in dealing with hate crimes.
– Rachel Cannon