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Rising Cases of "Corrective Rape" in South Africa Outrage Rights Groups

Rising Cases of "Corrective Rape" in South Africa Outrage Rights Groups

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In a post-apartheid South Africa, lesbians are facing a new discriminatory challenge that human rights groups say is travesty. A violent practice known as "corrective rape" where a woman is raped by a man in the belief that she will turn straight is currently on the rise in South Africa according to a report by CNN World. Although no official statistics on corrective rape cases are kept by police because they do not differentiate them from other rape cases, human rights organizations in the country say this a serious problem that warrants much more attention because it is a multi-layered hate crime and should be treated as such.

"It's not just about a woman being raped in terms of violence against women, which is bad enough, but it's also got to do with sexual orientation so it's another ground or level of unfair discrimination leveled against lesbians" said Cheryl Sanger, of the Women's Legal Centre in Cape Town. Even though South Africa is one of a few African countries that does not outlaw homosexuality and has drafted a charter to its constitution guaranteeing equality and non-discremination on the basis of 'sexual-orientation', Interpol estimates that half of South African lesbian women will be raped in their lifetime.

Siphokazi Mthathi, South African director at Human Rights Watch, said: "We've failed to make it understood that there is a price for rape. Sexism is still deeply embedded here. There is still a strong sense among men that they have power over women, women's bodies and there's also a strong sense that there's not going to be consequences because most often there are no consequences."

In 2004, South Africa also drafted a "Victims Charter" to their constitution granting several fundamental rights to every victim of crime. These rights include the right to be treated fairly, with respect, with dignity and with privacy. Compounding the problem for victims of corrective rape however, and a main reason more cases of corrective rape are not reported according to Human Rights Watch, is the incompetent treatment and/or lack of privacy they receive from police after reporting their case. Often times police will require victims to give their private testimony in the middle of crowded offices or will fail to collect relevant DNA or witness evidence.

According to Sanger, "When a woman is raped she is re-raped by the system. It's a serious violation of our constitution and the duties that are placed on the state in terms of what the state needs to do for survivors."

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Rising Cases of "Corrective Rape" in South Africa Outrage Rights Groups

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