Raped by justice
Her screams pierce through the thick winter’s night. In the dark, countless hands grab her, some ripping her clothes off, while others pin her limbs down on the dusty, wet grass. All the while, menacing, ridiculing threats are thrown at her. A single angry whisper of “We’ll show you what a man is!” sends her into convulsions of fear.
What seems like hours later, but has only been a few minutes, her body, bruised, bleeding, lays there, motionless. She has been assaulted, savagely raped, and left to die.
In South Africa, this is what has become known as “corrective rape”; the sexual assault of one because of their sexual preference, at the hands of homophobic individuals.
Very few lesbians and gay men survive this attack, and those who do are left emotionally scarred for life. A secondary attack follows at the hands of law authorities, who have no way of bringing justice to the perpetrators. As a result, many victims simply pick themselves up from the attack, and continue with life the best way they know how.
This crime first came to light with the brutal attack of Banyana Banyana player, Eudy Simelane, who died in 2008. Her gruesome murder made headlines, after her body was discovered in Ekurhuleni. She had been gang raped, as with many to follow, she had objects inserted into her private parts and she had been stabbed countless times.
Since then, there have been others victims in the same area
Gay and lesbian rights activist Girlie Nkosi was murdered more of less the same way in 2009, and Noxolo Nogwaza murdered in 2011.
On Easter morning that year, Nogwaza was found dead due to stoning and stabbing in an alley behind a grocery store. Years later, the murderers of the 24-year-old mother-of-two still walk free.
Friends believed she had been targeted because of her sexual orientation, making her a victim of so-called corrective rape.
Another survivor of this “corrective rape” is Bianca Laban. Her story is the saddest for me. She was gang raped in the same area as her friend, Duduzile Zozo. Unfortunately her friend did not make it. She was found dead, with a toilet brush inserted in her not far from her home in Thokoza, east of Johannesburg.
The dury is still out on who is more fortunate, the victim or the survivor. Bianca is the survivor, who runs into her attackers on a daily basis. She went only as far as reporting her attack to the local police station. They laughed her out of the premises, not bothering to even take down her statement. As a result, leaving the safety of her house is a daily decision, as she fears for her life. She runs into her attackers at the spaza on the corner, the taxi rank when she goes to work, the local tavern when she meets up with friends for drinks.
Government has only now started to pay attention to the plight of this unfortunate minority. A few years ago, it appointed a task team to look into the crime and see what ways are available to curb it. My investigations into this task team are still continuing, as they seem to have done very little work. According to members of the task team, they only had two meetings and since then, no word from Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
Maybe I can suggest a starting point for government; list them under a crime on their own when reported at police stations.
As it stands, they are either classified under rape, assault, or murder. This in my view, does not paint a true picture of the rampancy of this crime, therefore we have no way of getting statistics.
What has emerged from 1994 was the talk and hope of a rainbow nation, where all are meant to be equal, where all have rights. Was this not the “freedom” that was fought for, to be able to proudly and safely walk the streets of the country, and be protected by the Freedom Charter?
Clearly the rights of lesbians and gays are not included here, if their basic human rights, can be trampled on and in such a gruesome manner. More so when the upholders of these rights and the law itself, are easily able to turn a blind eye to such a heinous violation of human rights and dignity and get away with it.
What does this say about our “rainbow nation”.
She is also the owner of an artist management company based in Johannesburg.