Shock of 'corrective rape' uncovered
NKEPILE Mabuse, CNN's Johannesburg correspondent, says her recent research into the lives of lesbians fighting for acceptance has left her in shock.
Mabuse in this new documentary called World's Untold Stories: They Call It Corrective Rape reveals the extent to which lesbians, often attacked and raped to "cure" them of the "disease", are abused and harassed in South Africa's townships.
Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, the award-winning CNN's Johannesburg correspondent poured her heart out about her experience of the lives of lesbians in a conservative society.
"The level of abuse lesbians suffer from society is shocking. We have often read about the attacks, but what I did not know personally, until I did this documentary, is the constant daily abuse leading to the attacks. These people live in fear in a society where, despite the recognition of their sexuality by the Constitution, they still get harassed, attacked and raped.
"I spent days with some of these lesbians, particularly in Khayelitsha (a township in Cape Town). One of the lesbians in the documentary was stabbed 30 times and gang-raped by four men.
"I have travelled with them on a train to Parliament, and during this short journey they were gripped with fear. I was surprised when we reached the station that these women just dashed out. I only learnt later that on the train they identified some men who were about to attack them."
The seasoned TV journalist said the documentary had completely changed her perspective on the subject.
"These people are protected by the South African Constitution, but the attacks and harassments that continue to bedevil them are just shocking."
There are no statistics in the documentary, just more and more accounts from lesbians who are under attack. The women who speak to Mabuse say they are threatened, abused and raped by men who think they can teach them a lesson, men who think they can "cure" them. They call it "corrective rape" .
There is, however, a spirit of defiance among some lesbians.Twenty-year-old Zukiswa Gaca can't change who she is, but on a night in December 2009, she was raped by a man who tried to do just that. Two years later, she's still on a quest for justice. She's one of many South African lesbians under attack, but one of the few willing to risk pressing charges.
World's Untold Stories: They Call It Corrective Rape airs on CNN on Saturday (October 29) at 3pm and 10pm.