Monday, March 16, 2009

If You're Gay, Here's Another Reason Not to Go to Africa

If you're gay, on Friday we told you why you should avoid Nigeria, now we found this disturbing story by the Advocate about what's happening to lesbians in South Africa.

According to ActionAid's report "Hate Crimes: The Rise of Corrective Rape in South Africa" lesbians in South Africa are at high risk of being raped in towns where homosexuality is considered taboo -- where gangs of men view rape as a "cure" for sexual orientation,

The country logs approximately half a million rapes per year, and nearly all of the accused rapists go unpunished. This behavior is attributed to the patriarchal, male-dominated society in the regions where it's rampant.

"So-called 'corrective' rape is yet another grotesque manifestation of violence against women, the most widespread human rights violation in the world today," ActionAid's Zanele Twala said in a statement. "These crimes continue unabated and with impunity, while governments simply turn a blind eye."

At least 31 known lesbians have also been murdered in homophobic attacks over the last decade. However, since South Africa does not recognize sexual orientation when classifying hate crimes, the actual number is likely much higher. Among these cases, only two of the men went to trial, and just one was convicted.

"Here in South Africa you have judges sending women to jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed her baby, but men who gang-rape women, who murder lesbians… they walk the streets as free men," Tsidi, a hate-crime survivor in Cape Town said in a statement.

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