South African Murder Called Hate Crime
South African LGBT activists say a woman stabbed to death late last month was also a victim of “corrective rape,” in which men sexually assault lesbians on the pretense that the action will turn the women straight.
The victim, Noxolo Nogwaza, 24, was attacked by several men after she dropped off her girlfriend in a township near Johannesburg, CNN reports. She was raped, stabbed with broken glass, and beaten with rocks. Used condoms, rocks, and a beer bottle were found near her body.
Local police, who are continuing to search for the perpetrators, say the killing was not a hate crime, but activists disagree. “Her attack is a case of corrective rape,” said Lydia Kunu, who worked at a gay organization with Nogwaza. “Neighbors said they heard her attackers telling her, ‘We will take the lesbian out of you.’” Lesbian soccer player Eudy Simelane was raped and murdered in a similar manner three years ago in the same township.
Nogwaza’s death has led to increased pressure on South Africa’s government to take action against bias-related crimes involving LGBT victims. The nation’s Justice Ministry this week set up a task force to address the matter.
Although South Africa, in its post-apartheid constitution, became the first African nation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, antigay violence and other manifestations of homophobia remain rampant in the country, activists said. Siphokazi Mthathi, the South Africa director for Human Rights Watch, told CNN that sometimes when lesbians report being raped, police say, “Aren’t you glad that you got a real man for a change?”
“South Africa is a very misogynist and homophobic society,” Mthathi said. “We welcome the task team, but it won’t solve social problems. We need to address the culture of accountability in judicial and social institutions, we need to address the attitudes ... disrupt the culture of impunity.”