WARNING: Graphic images ahead.
Allow me to introduce you to a handful of women whose lives were horrifically changed or ended because of the hate crime of so-called corrective rape.
Eudy Simelane played soccer for the SA women’s national squad, Banyana Banyana. She paid for her lesbian lifestyle with her life. On 28 April 2008, a group of men in HER OWN COMMUNITY abducted, tortured, gang-raped and killed her. She was stabbed in the face, chest and legs.
Zoliswa Nkonyana was 19 years old when 9 men from HER OWN COMMUNITY took it upon themselves to ‘deal’ with her lesbianism. She was stabbed to death. This is how the system failed Zoliswa; her case was postponed more than 40 times, evidence was contaminated and at some point, the suspects escaped. Eventually, four of the nine accused were convicted. Due to a lack of evidence, the other five men were set free.
Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa were murdered together. They were raped and tortured. Sizakele’s underwear and shoelaces were used to tie her hands and ankles, making her completely defenseless. She was shot six times. She was shot six times. She was shot six times. She was shot six times. She was shot six times. She was shot six times.
Millicent Gaika was attacked by a member of HER OWN COMMUNITY, someone she recognized. He beat her up and repeatedly raped her for more than five hours. He said to her: “You think you’re a man, but I’m going to show you you’re a woman.” This is what corrective rape looks like.
Zukiswa Gaca was raped by someone in HER OWN COMMUNITY, someone who promised to “teach her a lesson”.
Noxolo being attracted to women did not sit well with some members of HER OWN COMMUNITY. Eight men raped her, disfigured her face and head with stones. They stabbed her with broken bottles. They killed her. She was 24 years old.
Another victim of HER OWN COMMUNITY; Noxolo was walking with her partner when she heard a voice say: “Hey you lesbian, you tomboy, we’ll show you.” Behind them was a group of men. She was stabbed twice. She fell to the ground. She was stabbed two more times.
Duduzile’s story is not different. Her being gay offended some people in HER OWN COMMUNITY. Duduzile was raped with an object and killed. Her mother saw Duduzile’s half-naked body outside a neighbour’s house. Duduzile had a toilet brush lodged in her vagina.
My question is, how do we get by in a world where people do not feel safe in THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES?