South Africa Corrective Rape Task Force Helms Hate Crimes Reform

July 03, 2011, by Melanie Nathan,

Melanie and Ndumie talking to SA TV outside Parliament, Cape Town.

Early in 2010, I started covering the stories of women in the South African Townships, who were raped by men seeking to “correct” the fact that they were lesbians, touting that rape would change the sexuality of the victim.  I never believed that these brutal crimes ever truly earned the name “corrective.” The so called descriptive term was in fact anything but descriptive of the atrocity.  Yet it served a purpose, because now the term serves to helm a crime that archives indescribable viciousness, murder of body mind and spirit, of women who did nothing more than live the life they were born to.

While the ominous call of the term, “corrective rape” may seem to hide the real intent of the cruel perpetrators, I have come to learn through the years of my activism and involvement with the issue, that these rapes are motivated by pure hate – homophobia – hate for a minority class of women who interfere with the notion of male power and dominance, spurred by a cultural generated entitlement, inducing a sordid justification by men who believe they own the sexuality of women.

Two years ago, the South African Government ignored activist pleas for attention to this matter, which was clearly one of endemic proportions in the South African Townships.  Together with Ndumie Funda’s and Luleki Sizwe’s help, a core few worked tirelessly to bring attention to the issue. I wrote the story of Millicent Gaika and followed it through every step of the inept condition of the South African justice system, noting and drafting the reforms that would be needed for change.

Eventually, after drafting and publishing reforms, http://www.change.org picked up the issue in a record breaking campaign, and after 200,000 e-mails jammed the computers of the office of South Africa’s minister of Justice, the Hon. Jeff Radebe, a meeting was called in Parliament in Cape Town.

Ndumie Funda & Melanie Nathan walk into Parliament with 200,000 Signatures

On March 15, 2011, a large crowd of activists including Free Gender’s Funeka Soldaat, Eugene ‘Huge’ Brockman and Henri Bantjez (SA Gay FLAG),  Gareth Dallas (Cape Town Pride Executive Director),  Zanale Muholi, international activist photographer, Mike Lupnow and Ecclessia de Lange (lesbian Methodist Minister under expulsion,) I attended the meeting, as the communications spokesperson for Luleki Sizwe; and arm in arm with Ndumie Funda, we presented the signatures to the South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and took the lead in the historic DOJCD meeting that has now yielded a task force on hate crimes, with the “corrective rape” issue as rudder.

Gay, Lesbian LGBTIAQ Task Force Named for South Africa:

On the 29th of June, after much deliberation, consultation and three rounds of talks of the South African Department of Justice, representatives of South Africa’s LGBTIAQ community has been appointed to an interim task team on homophobic and gender based hate crimes. These representatives will meet with a cluster of governmental representatives for SAPS, Social Development, Justice, National Prosecutors, Health etc. reporting to respective deputy ministers and inter-departmentally.

The aim of the task team is to affect change and give access to the LGBTIAQ community, which has been expressing sentiments of marginalization, which was brought to the fore with “corrective rape” of lesbian women.

DOJ’s Tluli Tluli with mel Nathan& Ndumie Funda at meeting on 3/15/2011

The most prominent activist against corrective rape, Ndumie Funda of Luleki Sizwe has been appointed as a member to the task team. Ms. Funda. Ms. Funda stated “I am excited that we will be getting our heads together and putting our differences aside to work, for our communities. It is about time we have united forces.”

The team will be of a temporary and interim nature as it was clear that immediate action should be taken and access given to governmental resources to deal with the reality of murders, attacks and corrective rape cases on a regular basis, whilst arranging for an “imbizo”/ national caucus to discuss these issues and to elect permanent task team members and their resource teams representing various constituencies.

At the moment the representatives consists of the following LGBTIAQ representatives who represent various sectors, have proven constituencies and track records in aiding the pink communities of South Africa:

Funeka Soldaat Speaks at Rape Victim Funeral

Community Based Organizations:

Ndumie Funda (Luleki Sizwe) and
Funeka Soldaat (Free Gender)

Joint Working Group (a cluster of National LGBTIAQ Non Profit Organizations):

  • · Phindi Malaza (FEW)
  • · Zethu Matabeni (GALA)
  • · Jill Henderson (Triangle)
  • · Juan Nel (UCAP)

Human Rights:

· Dipika Nath (Human Rights Watch)

HIV/AIDS:

· Nokhwezi Hoboyi (TAC)

Two members are still outstanding with, COSATU who is still to choose a representative on worker rights for the LGBTIAQ community and a representative experienced with gender based violence.

The interim task team will meet on July 14th to:

  • · address and finalize the plan of action and terms of reference for the task team,
  • · to escalate ongoing and new cases of hate crimes,
  • · to establish the task teams processes, financial and human resources
  • · to plan and coordinate a broadly representative national “imbizo” to discuss hate crimes and elect a permanent task team.

Before July 14th these and other LGBTIAQ organizations are asked to submit:

  • · draft terms of reference for the task teams
  • · cases of homophobic hate crimes that need attention and escalation.
Free Gender Activists outside SA Parliament 2011

The Government and the Department of Justice also has to meet with other collaborative governmental departments to decide on how much budget and resources they could allocate to the interim task team, especially since there might be flights and accommodation needed for some of the interim task team member’s meeting on July 14th.

The question on who’d chair the task team still remains as it has been indicated that Jeff Radebe, the Minister of Justice would not be able to regularly lead meetings.

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Ndumie Funda and mel Nathan siging Gay SA remembrance flag before going to Parliament

For more information on Cases and Articles,

Contact Melanie Nathan at nathan@privatecourts.com
Photos Copyright: Melanie Nathan – May be used with accreditation and link to this post.

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Lesbian Corrective Rape Victim has her day in Court

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By Melanie Nathan NOV 05-2010. (Updated February 14, 2011)

This is the face of South African lesbian who was beaten and raped for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”.  This is the face of a warrior who despite all odds, trauma, and police victimization, found her way to Court today by public transportation, to testify against her brutal attacker, who remained free on bail  to -in essence- board the same bus. The Police were simply not willing to give this young woman a ride to the Court.   read more ..

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