Rights groups condemn 'corrective rape'

Corrective rape is a hate crime in which men rape lesbian women in order to "cure them" of being lesbian

ABOUT 200 members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights groups protested outside Parliament yesterday, calling on Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to stamp out "corrective rape" against them.

Corrective or curative rape is a hate crime in which men rape lesbian women in order to "cure them" of being lesbian.

Led by the Luleki Sizwe group the activists have collected more than 170000 signatures againstcorrective rape.

Activist Ndumie Funda founded Luleki Sizwe to rescue, feed and nurse to health survivors of corrective rape in 10 Cape Town townships. Luleki Sizwe is run by four female volunteers. Funda's fiancée was herself a victim of corrective rape.

Funda said they wanted the justice ministry to set up a special commission that would come up with a plan to deal with hate crimes against gays and lesbians.

"We have shown that we can mobilise tens of thousands of people, and the ministry now knows that they can no longer ignore our long fight against corrective rape. The question now is what they will actually do about it. The ball is in their court."

Marlow Valentine of the Triangle Project, which promotes LGBTI rights, said government must protect gays and lesbians.

"Corrective rape is still under-reported. A woman goes into a police station and says she was raped for being a lesbian, and she is not taken seriously," said Valentine. "There has not been one prosecution as yet."

A delegation later met with justice officials in Parliament.

Justice Ministry spokesperson Tlali Tlali said after their meeting that the ministry would consider making corrective rape a hate crime.

"The starting point was for us to hear what they had to say so that we can go back and consider it. We will really consider their proposal for a commission," said Tlali.

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