In many parts of the world, especially in Africa, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face hostility, discrimination and danger. Although the South African constitution clearly condemns discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, many LGBTI people in South Africa continue to face severe discrimination and victimisation on a daily basis.
Rape of lesbian women, often by multiple perpetrators and accompanied by violence, is a particularly apalling form of homophobic victimisation. This is also referred to as “corrective rape”, where men rape lesbians in order to turn them heterosexual and punish them for their homosexuality. This form of rape has been labelled a hate crime, as it is motivated by a hatred of the group that the victim belongs to.
Exact statistics are not available as many rapes are not reported. Reporting a rape and moving through the criminal justice process is in itself a traumatic process and often the rape survivour is further victimised through this ordeal. Stigma around homosexuality and the prejudice that exists in South Africa means that lesbian rape survivors potentially face even greater trauma and secondary victimisation if their sexual orientation becomes known.
Sexual violence is a general term that includes acts such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual slavery/enforced prostitution, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
Sexual assault is any kind of sexual contact that is against a woman’s will or without her consent. This may be because of force, violence, intimidation or where someone is unable to give consent (eg. through being drunk or on drugs, being too young to consent, being asleep or having a disability).
Rape occurs when a person (perpetrator) intentionally puts any body part or object (such as a bottle or a dildo) into another person’s anus or vagina, or genital organs into the mouth of another person without consent. Rape is not about relieving sexual desire, it is about gaining power and control over another person. A rapist gets satisfaction by humiliating and controlling the victim and uses sex as the tool to do this.
Sexual violence potentially results in a multitude of health-related issues such as:
In order to prevent many of these complications, medical treatment and psychological support is needed.