Justice For Eudy Simelane
Raped and killed for being a lesbian: South Africa ignores ‘corrective’ attacks
The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa‘s acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found in a creek in a park in Kwa Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs. As well as being one of South Africa’s best-known female footballers, Simelane was a voracious equality rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema.
Her brutal murder took place last April, and since then a tide of violence against lesbians in South Africa has continued to rise. Human rights campaigners say it is characterised by what they call “corrective rape” committed by men behind the guise of trying to “cure” lesbians of their sexual orientation.
Gang-rape killer of lesbian footballer gets life
A man was jailed for life today for the murder and gang rape of a lesbian South African international footballer.
Themba Mvubu, 24, from Kwathema, was found guilty of murdering, robbing and being an accessory to the rape of 31-year-old Eudy Simelane.
Activists at the magistrates court in Delmas, Mpumalanga province, hailed the judgment as “extremely important” in drawing attention to cases of murder and so-called “corrective rape” against lesbians in South Africa.
Simelane was one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema township, near Johannesburg. A keen footballer since childhood, she played for the South African women’s team and worked as a coach and referee. She hoped to serve as a line official in the 2010 men’s World Cup in South Africa.
When I was apart of the 1×6 roundtable discussion a few months back, one of the topic questions I submitted was in regard to corrective rape and its human rights consequences in South Africa. I watched the video above and read Eudy’s story and was horrified by not only the audacity of the re-wording of such a savage act, but the degradation of women and girls in all of South Africa. Six other bloggers weighed in with their views and further discussion ensued. I didn’t read all of the comments when they were first posted, but one in particular stood out and lost neither its potency nor its truth since that day back in June.
I’m actually from South Africa and while I’m well schooled in debates of cultural relativism there are times where you do have to just draw a line and say, this is wrong and the people who are doing this are wrong. As Knowledge pointed out, the problem is rape in South Africa, period. We have the highest rate in the world for a number of reasons: extreme poverty, people living on top of each other thus making women extremely vulnerable to any man who wishes to have his way with her. Furthermore, as in most countries, it is a crime which is just not really backed up by the legal system. You basically have to pitch up at the court with a few broken legs and sperm running down your leg to prove that you were actually coerced into sex. The legal system is dominated by men and in a culture as saturated with machismo as ours is, it’s always the woman’s fault – she just gave the poor guy the wrong message shame. Rape is literally considered an ‘easy crime’ the convictions are so low. Fatal Attraction, of course a lot of people don’t agree with the law and there are many many tireless campaigners picketing rape trial after trial (I myself attended one where a man had raped over fifty women and still gotten out of jail after a few years) but it’s not easy to fight something which is so institutionalised within every aspect of society. And of course, to make matters worse, we have a president who used the excuse that ‘she wore a short skirt’ in his rape trial setting an example for the rest of South African men. I’m sure you know we have one of the most progressive constitutions in the world declaring that no one should ever be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender etc etc – we can even get married – but unfortunately this constitution is just a fancy piece of paper and its ethos is not always lived out in practice. ‘Curative rape’ as it is called is a part of the larger rape problem in the country BUT it is very problematic to view it as such as well. This, you see, is how the government, and the the rest of the world actually, is able to cast a blind eye to the problem. These women ARE being targeted because they are lesbians going against the grain of patriarchy. The men perhaps feel that they have no power over them and accordingly want to reclaim that power that they believe they should have rightfully as males. Watch this video for an idea of how the men think:
Don’t think for one second that this is just an isolated problem in an already violent country, there are men all over who think like this. It just may not be as easy for them to act on it, and get away with it, as it is in our country.
image @ http://www.everyhumanhasrights.org/