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Report Details Abuse Against South African Lesbians

Report Details Abuse Against South African Lesbians


A report released Monday by Human Rights Watch paints a harrowing picture of the abuse suffered by poor lesbians, bisexual women and transgender men in South Africa, including the pervasive crime of "corrective rape."

The report, "We'll Show You You're a Woman," documents the constant harassment and physical and sexual violence, often by friends and family, against lesbians, bisexual women and transgender women in the impoverished black townships. According to the Associated Press, their lives contrast starkly with those of "urban, wealthy, often white gay South Africans" in parts of some cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Some 121 people were interviewed for the report, which documents the pervasive problem of "corrective rapes" by family members and close family friends including pastors. Men in townships can become known as heroes for "showing" their victims what it means to be a "woman."

Human Rights Watch called on the South African government to address the issue with a broad campaign. Despite a progressive constitution for gay rights approved in 1996 and the subsequent legalization of same-sex marriage, attitudes often lag behind the law in the post-Apartheid country.

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