Friday, March 25, 2011

Nearly 700,000 of us have take action to stop 'corrective rape'

 Nearly 700,000 of us have take action to stop 'corrective rape' and activists in South Africa have forced the government into talks. Let's urgently reach a million and ramp up the pressure for concrete action — click below to sign and forward this email to everyone:

Thembi (name changed) was pulled from a taxi near her home, beaten and raped by a man who crowed that he was ‘curing’ her of her lesbianism.

Thembi is not alone -- this vicious crime is recurrent in South Africa, where lesbians live in terror of attack. But no one has ever been convicted of 'corrective rape'. Amazingly, from a tiny Cape Town safehouse a few brave activists are risking their lives to ensure that this heinous practice is stopped and their massive campaign has forced the government into talks.

If we shine a light on this horror from all corners of the world -- and enough of us join in we can escalate the pressure, and help make sure these talks lead to concrete and urgent action. Let’s call on President Zuma and the Minister of Justice to publicly condemn ‘corrective rape’, criminalise hate crimes, and ensure immediate enforcement, public education and protection for survivors. Sign the petition now and share it with everyone -- when we reach one million signers we’ll deliver it to the South African government with unmissable and hard hitting actions:

South Africa, often called the Rainbow Nation, is revered globally for its post-apartheid efforts to protect against discrimination. It was the first country to constitutionally protect citizens from discrimination based on sexuality. But local organisations record multiple 'corrective rapes' every week, and impunity reigns.

'Corrective rape' is based on the outrageous and utterly false notion that a lesbian woman can be raped to 'make her straight', but this heinous act is not even classified as a hate crime in South Africa. The victims are often black, poor, lesbian women, and profoundly marginalised. But even the 2008 gang rape and murder of Eudy Simelane, the national hero and former star of the South Africa women's national football team, did not turn the tide. Despite this high profile case, Minister Radebe insists that motive is irrelevant in crimes like 'corrective rape.'

South Africa is the rape capital of the world. A South African girl born today is more likely to be raped than she is to learn to read. Astoundingly, one quarter of South African girls are raped before turning 16. This has many roots: masculine entitlement (62 per cent of boys over 11 believe that forcing someone to have sex is not an act of violence), poverty, crammed settlements, unemployed and disenfranchised men, community acceptance -- and, for the few cases that are courageously reported to authorities, a dismal police response and lax sentencing.

This is a human catastrophe. But courageous South Africans and partners at have opened a window of hope to get action on targeted sexual violence and hate crimes. They have got the government's attention, now if the whole world weighs in, together we could get justice for the victims and concrete and urgent action to end 'corrective rape':

This is ultimately a battle with poverty, patriarchy, and homophobia. Ending the tide of rape will require bold leadership and concerted action to spearhead transformative change in South Africa and across the continent. President Zuma is a a Zulu traditionalist, who has himself stood trial for rape. But he condemned the arrest of a gay couple in Malawi last year, and, after massive national and international civic pressure, South Africa finally approved a UN resolution opposing extra-judicial killing in relation to sexual orientation.

If enough of us join this global call for action, we could push Zuma to speak out, drive much-needed government action, and help a national conversation that could fundamentally shift public attitudes toward rape and homophobia in South Africa. Sign on now and spread the word:

A case like Thembi's makes it easy to lose hope. But when citizens come together with one voice, we can succeed in shifting fundamentally unjust, but deeply ingrained practices and norms. Last year, in Uganda, we succeeded in building such a massive wave of public pressure that the government was forced to shelve legislation that would have sentenced gay Ugandans to death. And it was global pressure in support of bold national activists that pushed South African leaders to address the AIDS crisis that was engulfing their country. Let’s join together now and speak out for a world where each and every human being can live without fear of abuse.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Ricken, Maria Paz, David and the rest of the Avaaz team


South Africans decry rape of Lesbians (AP)

'Corrective Rape': Fighting a South African Scourge (Time),8599,2057744,00.html blog post on local campaign

Protest against ‘corrective rape’ (The Sowetan)

"South Africa's shame: the rise of child rape" (The Independent)

"Exploring homophobic victimisation in Gauteng, South Africa: issues, impacts, and responses" (Centre for Applied Psychology, University of South Africa)

"We have a major problem in South Africa" (The Guardian)

"South Africa: Rape Facts" (Channel 4)

"Understanding men’s health and use of violence: interface of rape and HIV in South Africa" (Medical Research Council)

"Preventing Rape and Violence in South Africa" (Medical Research Council)

Support the Avaaz community! We're entirely funded by donations and receive no money from governments or corporations. Our dedicated team ensures even the smallest contributions go a long way -- donate here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recy Taylor experienced the worst of living under Jim Crow law.

Nearly 70 years ago, in the small town of Abbeville, Alabama, a young woman named Recy Taylor experienced the worst of living under Jim Crow law. In 1944, Recy was gang raped by a group of men –– her neighbors. 
Rosa Parks and the NAACP fought on Recy's behalf to send her attackers to prison. But because Recy was black and the assailants were white, her rapists never even faced trial, let alone jail time, even though they confessed to raping her.
Yesterday, after emails from over 6,000 members, Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock and Alabama State Rep. Dexter Grimsley made personal apologies to Recy and her family for the failure to prosecute her attackers. Now it's time for the city of Abbeville and state of Alabama to follow suit.
Recy is now 91 years old, and all she wants is for her story to be recognized. For the state that denied her justice to admit that it did wrong. "The sheriff never even said he was sorry it happened. I think more people should know about it … but ain't nobody saying nothing," Recy said.
Recy's brother, Robert Corbitt, has spent the last decade of his retirement searching for the facts of the case and seeking justice for Recy. He started a petition on requesting an apology to his sister from the city of Abbeville and the state of Alabama. 
Rep. Grimsley –– an Abbeville native himself –– has vowed to introduce a resolution in the House calling for Alabama to apologize to Recy and all the black women like her whose stories were hushed and names were slandered. 
Tell the Alabama state legislature to support Rep. Grimsley's apology resolution -- it's time for us to stand up for Recy and for Alabama to apologize for letting her down.
Thanks for taking action,
- Shelby and the team

Friday, March 18, 2011

Baby rapes shock South Africa...

'Corrective rape makes you an African woman'

This article is from 2003 , it shows how long this crime has been going on and ignored , there are women being raped this very minute and no one hears their cries...

By Yolanda Mufweba

Lesbians are being raped, assaulted and victimised "every day" in the townships, in an attempt to force a change in their sexual orientation. Since January this year, 33 black lesbians have come forward with their stories of rape, assault, sexual assault and verbal abuse to organisations fighting hate crimes in Johannesburg townships.

Zanele Muholi, a reporter for the lesbian and gay publication Behind the Mask, has documented 12 rapes, four attempted rapes, six verbal abuse cases, three assaults with a deadly weapon, and two abductions.

"Since we started on this project (The Rose has Thorns) we've realised that this kind of thing happens every day, everywhere. As we are speaking, there are two people waiting for me to take their details," she said.

The age group of the victims ranges from 16 to 35 years, and two of the rape survivors are teenagers. Muholi added that 24 of the 33 women who were subjected to hate crimes were "butch" women who had been victimised in townships including Sharpeville, Tembisa, White City, Kagiso, Pimville, Alexandra and Kwa Thema among others.

"Eight of the perpetrators were friends and neighbours, two - family, seven - familiar to the survivors, two - ex-boyfriends, seven - strangers, and five - attacked by gang members," she said.

Kekeletso Khena fled from Soweto after being raped three times before she turned 19.
It's a practice called "corrective rape", where men try to "turn you into a real African woman".

"I was raped because I was a butch child. I was 13 years old the first time it happened. My mother walked into the room soon afterwards and said to me 'this is what happens to girls like you'.

"It didn't occur to me then what she meant, but looking back now, that's not the kind of thing you expect from a mother," she said.

Khena had boyfriends but she never became sexually intimate with them.

"I was raped by my ex-boyfriend because I refused him sex. The last time I was raped, I was 18 years old, it was a family friend who said to me that I had to be taught how to be a black woman. My family reacted differently this time. There was a lot more sensitivity and support because they knew the perpetrator," she said.

Khena left Soweto and hardly goes back to the township.

"I hate going back to Soweto, people stare at you as if you are an abomination. The minute I walk into the township, this alarm bell goes off in my head. I feel even worse when I look at my mother and you can see in her eyes she's thinking 'this is my child'. I left the township because I refuse to feel threatened on a daily basis," she said.

Years later, she and her mother have come to terms with her daughter's behaviour.

"Most black families know, but they don't talk about it," she said.

Denne (as she likes to be called) from Alexandra, is 30 years old and has had to defend herself physically since her days at school.

"I have been in many fights. It's very rough here in Alex. Everyone has a problem - calling me faggot. But you earn respect if you discipline them. If you're a lesbian in Alex, you don't go out after dark, you must be able to fight or else you get raped or beaten up," she said.
She has also left home, but still stays in Alexandra with her daughter.

"I was just tired of fighting with my parents, my family. They don't understand, so I left," she said.

Yusoof Abdullah, veteran co-founder of the Pride March, agreed that at township level many gay women were still facing heavy prejudice from communities.

"We rarely hear of people being beaten up on campus anymore. But in townships, gay women are not accepted. The mentality is still that all they need is a penis to set them straight," he said.

Just last month, a lesbian was stabbed outside her home in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The stabbing pierced her lung and she had to have five stitches.

Media reports also stated that she had been stabbed 11 times in a previous attack. She has subsequently died and will be buried this weekend.

The Forum for the Empowerment of Women and Behind the Mask have, since 2001, tackled hate crimes happening in townships around Johannesburg through workshops and empowerment programmes.

The Rose has Thorns campaign is trying to raise awareness of hate crimes directed at lesbians.

Khena, who has joined the campaign as manager, said the most common form of hate crimes was "corrective rape".

"It's the most disturbing. It boils down to the fact that you as a woman have a role to be a wife, mother and subordinate to your husband. If you are lesbian you are not fulfiling those roles," she said.

"There are many issues that lesbians have to deal with besides being marginalised as women.

 There is intolerance at all levels - the media, health officials, education, the police, family.

 That is why there is such a high rate of suicide and drug abuse," she said.

Pamphlets issued by the organisation advise lesbians on the best ways to prevent themselves from being seriously injured during these attacks.

"We hand these out at workshops and we run self-defence classes every week. We also have training workshops in computer courses for those out of work," she said.

"The organisation has hosted workshops for communities to discuss issues faced by lesbians and how the community can assist in fighting prejudice.

"We need to get rid of the belief that it is unnatural and that it is a white thing, or un-African," she said.

The head of the police Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit, Superintendent Andre Neethling, said the victims needed to trust police with information.

"We get reports on rape cases but the motive behind the attacks is not given. If it's a case of gay-bashing we would be able to successfully link cases and do profiles for arrests. We need to work together to put an end to this," he said.

South Africa's Justice Minister invites lesbian group to help combat corrective rape

South Africa's Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeff Radebe, has invited a lesbian rights group to discuss action against so-called corrective rape.

Luleki Sizwe will take part in the discussion, which is scheduled to take place at Parliament tomorrow.

As reported on, Luleki Sizwe launched an international petition against corrective rape and in 100 days gathered more than 170 000 signatures from 163 countries, last year.

According to website IOL News, the organisation hopes tomorrow’s meeting will push the ministry to commission research and develop and implement a national action plan to stop such attacks.

Ndumie Funda, founder of Luleki Sizwe, said action against corrective rape was long overdue. “We have shown that we can mobilise tens of thousands of people in South Africa and around the world, and the ministry now knows that they can no longer ignore our long fight against corrective rape.”

Charity, who is backing the campaign, said: “We now hope the ministry sees the potential in working together with a wide range of local activists and community groups to take tangible action on corrective rape.”

'Jackrolling' gang rape is fun ...

South African rape survey shock

Raped and killed for being a lesbian

Curing lesbians by 'corrective rape'

Shocked and speaking out...

South Africa:"corrective rape" -- where men rape lesbian women to "turn" them straight.

A small group of lesbian activists from the poverty-stricken townships of Cape Town walked into South African parliament on Monday and convinced their government to finally start fighting the country’s decades-old scourge of "corrective rape" -- where men rape lesbian women to "turn" them straight.

 You made that moment possible. Late last year, these activists called on the world to help them pressure their leaders to take action on corrective rape. We answered their call, and more than 170,000 members from 163 countries joined with them, making this the largest campaign of all time on

Three and a half months later, they succeeded.

Teaming up with 23 major South African organizations, they got some of the most powerful officials in the country to agree to bring together various government arms and civil society groups to develop and implement a national action plan to combat corrective rape.

The ministry officials asked for details of specific cases in need of immediate attention, committed to a series of meetings beginning in six weeks, and promised to present concrete proposals to prevent corrective rape by the next meeting.

It’s an astounding victory, far beyond what we ever could have imagined when we set out late last year. Now these activists need your help holding the government accountable for its commitments.

If there was any question about the effect you had, the chief of staff himself confirmed it: At one point in the session he explicitly said, in a pleading voice, "Please don't petition us again."But that’s exactly what we need to do. 

The government is making a series of urgent decisions on sexual violence legislation in the next few weeks, and South African activists need your help in pressuring them to follow up their words with tangible action


Your work led to overwhelming international press coverage of the campaign, taking corrective rape from an unspoken epidemic to a prominent international issue. In the last two weeks alone, the campaign against corrective rape has been covered by Time Magazine, the Washington PostUSA TodayHouston ChronicleSan Francisco ChroniclePhiladelphia InquirerBoston GlobeMiami HeraldSeattle TimesABC NewsCBS NewsNBC NewsFox NewsMSNBC, Dan Rather, ForbesYahoo!

NewsSalon, and dozens of global outlets from Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, Spain, and even a Finnish tabloid.

An elated Luleki Sizwe Founder Ndumie Funda (pictured to the right, alongside the chief of staff from the Ministry of Justice) called it "an incredible achievement…

I humble myself to the 170,000 people from all over the world who made this possible.

 It was about time this happened."There is still much to be done, but every member should be proud about what has been accomplished here.

 In just 100 days, a tiny group of township activists have managed to mobilize more than 170,000 people from 163 countries and engaged the highest levels of government to address their demands.

That’s incredible.

Thanks for lending your voice. 

- Weldon and the team

[Avaaz.Org] The ANC's South Africa - Rape Capital of the World: Sign Protest!

FIVE HOURS of trying to rape a lesbian straight...

Video footage:Lesbians fear 'corrective' rape..

Women's Bodies Have Become War Zones

As president, Zuma has selected more women than the previous administration for Cabinet positions and has pledged his commitment to protecting the rights of women, but there are signs that attitudes toward rape and homosexuality throughout the population remain the same.

Last year the South Africa Human Rights Commission issued a report on primary and secondary school violence. One of the findings pointed to "a growing phenomenon" of the acceptance of corrective rape from the next generation of South African men.

Phumi Metwa, director of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Project, says she thinks the violence is actually getting worse. Her organization has tried to educate women and men on gender and sexual orientation sensitivity. But she says as a lesbian, she often feels threatened herself, like a "time bomb" could go off at anytime, making her a victim.

"Women's bodies have become war zones," said Metwa. "We are trying to say that if women work together, we can change attitudes, but for now, we live in fear every day."

Police No Help to Victims of 'Corrective Rape'

Many victims of corrective rape said they often don't even bother going to the police. Phumla, a resident of the Soweto township outside of Johannesburg said she was raped by men she trusted after accepting a ride home from soccer practice. Instead of taking her home, they took her to a house where another man awaited and raped her. She said they repeatedly told her they were "teaching her a lesson" throughout the attack.

"When it happened to me, 'corrective' rape felt like the worst kind of violence that someone could have inflicted on my person," said Phumla, "As lesbians, we know we are in danger, but we still let those guys drive us home. So I didn't report it to the police because I felt like we couldn't."

Rape, in general, is a pervasive problem in South Africa. There were more than 50,000 reported rapes last year, but women's rights groups estimate only one in nine in rapes are reported. Some statistics run as high as 500,000 and estimate that a woman in South Africa is raped every 26 seconds.

Yet most rapists continue to go free. A study conducted by Tshwaranang, a legal advocacy center focused on ending violence against women in South Africa, showed that in the Johannesburg area, for every 25 men who are tried for rape, 24 go free.

Even the country's new president Jacob Zuma has faced allegations of rape. Three years ago, Zuma was acquitted of raping a family friend and anti-AIDS activist. He was criticized by women's rights organizations for comments made during his testimony. He told the judge that his accuser wore a mini-skirt to his house and revealed her thigh, indicating that she wanted to have sex with him. He said that, according to the Zulu culture, the tribe from which he belongs, his accuser was aroused and he was obligated to have sex with her. "In the Zulu culture, you cannot just leave a woman if she is ready," he testified.

Despite the outrage from South African human right's groups, his insistence that he was simply behaving as an African man -- even testifying in his native Zulu, just increased his popularity with the general population. Turquet says, in spite of South Africa's progressive constitution and legislation regarding women and homosexual rights, the legal system still reflects cultural values and "is lagging behind."

Homophobic Men Are Raping, Murdering Lesbians in a Bid to 'Turn Them Straight'

South Africa is considered the most progressive country in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country boasts a developed economy, and has a post-apartheid constitution that stresses equal rights for everyone.

It's one of the few countries in the world with a specific provision in its constitution prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians.

It's also the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa where there are openly gay bars.

But behind the gay-friendly exterior of South Africa, lies the reality: a society that remains, for the most part, virulently homophobic.

Like much of the rest of the continent, attitudes towards homosexuality range from being viewed as unnatural or "un-African" to people calling it "a condition" that comes from and is encouraged by the West. Nowhere is this more evident than in the practice of "corrective" rape: men raping women who have come out as lesbians in an effort to "turn them straight." Many of these woman end up being murdered.

"Corrective rape is a horrific confluence of two things in South Africa: violence against women and a rising tide of homophobia and hatred against homosexuals," Laura Turquet, a women's rights advocate, told ABC News.

Turquet researched and authored a recent report for ActionAid, an international anti-poverty organization, focusing primarily on women's rights. The report found that in the last 10 years at least 31 women had been killed in sexual-orientation hate crimes.

But human rights groups say that number is deceptive. Even though the South African constitution specifically prohibits discrimination against homosexuals, crimes against gays and lesbians are not categorized as hate crimes under the legal system, so violence against lesbians is often not recorded.

"Some of the women we spoke to said that when they went to the police to report being abused sexually, they told us that the police were more interested in asking the women why they were lesbians than investigating the assault," Turquet said.

To date, of the 31 reported cases of corrective rape and subsequent murders, only one person has been convicted. One man pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of Eudy Simelane, a one-time national soccer player and outspoken gay right's advocate. She was murdered in 2007, found gang raped with 25 stab wounds throughout her body. Four other men have been charged.

The trial for three of the men, who have pleaded not guilty is under way. But despite friends' testimony that Simelane had endured constant threats for being an out lesbian, the judge in her killer's case refused to acknowledge that it was a motivating factor, reportedly saying during sentencing that her sexual orientation had "no significance" in her murder.