An opinion piece by Lilly Iona Kitzinger, ESK S5ENA
Openly being a member of the LGBT community, means that you are likely to face discrimination and judgment from those around you simply for being yourself and loving people outside the social norm. People will pride themselves on being open-minded and then look away uncomfortably when you mention it. Even in the most progressive countries being ostracized and insulted is common, however there are places in the world where it is far worse. 72 countries around the world directly criminalize the LGBT community. In 11 of these the death penalty is a possibility and sometimes used. As if all this was not already bad enough, there are some families that decide to take matters into their own hands after finding out that their child is a member of the LGBT community.
The dictionary’s definition of corrective rape is; “Corrective rape, also called curative or homophobic rape, is a hate crime in which one or more people are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” It is an attempt to change someone’s sexual identity by letting them be raped by someone of the opposite sex. By 2015 there had been at least 31 cases where a woman was murdered for being lesbian and there was an average of three woman being raped every week to “correct” them. There have been cases in many countries in the world including; India, south Africa, Kenya, the United States and Jamaica.
Pearl Mali, a woman from South Africa, realized when she was younger that she experienced same-sex attraction. Her mother brought an elderly man home and he raped her almost daily until she was 16 years old. She said; “My mother didn’t want me to be gay so she asked him to move in and be my husband. She hoped it would change me.” Pearl ran away from home in an attempt to escape but then realised she was pregnant. She attempted to abort the pregnancy and to kill herself but both attempts failed. Once she had given birth, she was forced to go back to her mother’s house as the police said she was too young to take care of the baby. Once she got there, her mother took Pearl’s child and kicked her out. “I cannot touch the child, I cannot bathe him or feed him because “I‘m going to make him gay too” I cannot touch him or kiss him or anything” the grief-stricken mother said. Pearl attempted to go to court to fight for her parental rights but as neither her mother nor her rapist appeared, the court could not proceed and the case was dismissed. To this day she cannot see her son.
Members of the LGBT community, who live in areas where such cases are common, are forced to live in fear. Funeka Soldaat, a founder of free gender, a black lesbian activist group in the Khayelitsha township outside Cape Town, described the situation ; “It’s as if you know you are sitting on a time bomb. You don’t know when it’s going to explode. You are just waiting for it to be your turn. And you won’t get any support from the community, as it thinks homosexuality is un-African. Homophobia is going to take time to go away, if it ever does.”
There is an endless list of people who were mistreated, had their voices stolen from them and are forced to be subject to horrors they never wanted to experience. Simphiwe Thandeka and Hlengiwe Hlengwa who were both raped. Noxolo Nogwaza who was raped and brutally murdered. Eudy Simelane, a soccer player was raped and stabbed to death.
Most of these cases will remain unreported as it is often the family member of a victim that carried out the crime. Even if a victim were to report the case, they would likely be humiliated and mistreated. Justice systems around the world fail hundreds of victims on a monthly basis.
Rape is perhaps the most demoralizing of crimes . To rape someone because of their sexual orientation is beyond dreadful. To be able to force something like that upon your own child you must truly be blinded by fear and stupidity. Who someone loves is never any excuse to judge or hate them. As someone who is queer and openly so I have accepted that there are people in the world that would hate me without knowing anything else about me. But it shouldn’t be that way, love should be accepted in all its forms and not so easily tainted with the hate of those who cannot comprehend anything outside of what they know. Love is beautiful. Love really just is love it‘s as simple as that even if some people can‘t understand.