Article Title:South Africa, Zuma and Homophobic Rape
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:7th March 2016 - 03:52 pm
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Story ID:18026
Text:With controversies about the integrity of current South African President Jacob Zuma and an epidemic of anti-lesbian corrective rapes and homicide, what is happening with the lives of LGBT South Africans, twenty two years after the end of apartheid's racist segregation policies.   Back during the days of white political dominance, "sodomy" was banned under both Roman-Dutch and British Imperial statutes. When South Africa left the British Commonwealth in 1948 after the inauguration of apartheid, it didn't abolish these colonial era relics. Indeed, in 1969, when the rest of Western Europe was moving toward decriminalisation of gay male sexuality, the Nationalist Party introduced a clause into its antigay statutes preventing multiple sexual partners. It took until the abolition of apartheid in 1994 and the election of Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress administration to finally decriminalise gay male sexuality. Thereafter, reforms followed rapidly. Sexual orientation was incorporated into theANC's new constitution, which meant that antigay discrimination was outlawed in 1996. In 1998, the South African Parliament passed its Equality Act to provide statutory relief under antidiscrimination legislation. In 2006, the Constitutional Court prodded the government on issues like marriage equality, leading it to pass marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform legislation. From being a human rights blackspot, post-apartheid South Africa now has some of the best overall policies on sexual orientation and gender equality in the African continent. However, under Mandela's successor, Thabo Mbeki, there were several years of protracted struggle over HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment policy. Mbeki had been 'captured' by the extremist "AIDS denialist" propaganda of Peter Duesberg, who denies that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus exists and that "AIDS" is the product of AZT propylactic medication. As a result, the administration blocked access to it, resulting in the deaths of (mostly black) South Africans and the formation of the Treatment Action Group, which fought the administration's retrograde policies for over a decade, until Mbeki left office in 2008. Fortunately, Ngolema Motlanthe, his replacement, overturned his predecessor's policies, sacked the denialist Mbeki administration Health Minister Manto Tshabilala-Msimang, and restored HIV medication access to South Africans. Tshabilala-Msimang hawked uhbejane, garlic, beetroot and lemon juice to "combat" AIDS during her tenure of office. In 2009, he was replaced by the current incumbent, Jacob Zuma, resulting in another set of problems- but these predominantly affect black South African lesbians instead. Zuma has been charged with rape (but acquitted), racketeering and corruption, although some of those accusations may originate from his rival Thabo Mbeki. He is a polygamist and has six wives and an estimated twenty children, resulting in one and half million dollars maintenance and child support payments to his current and former spouses, and complaints about that state of affairs in the South African Parliament. More controversially, Zuma backed the Zimbabwean regime of Robert Mugabe, a former frontline state ally against apartheid, but also a human rights blackspot today, until 2008. His comments about marriage equality, the permanence of ANC rule, Afrikaners and political opponents have been controversial. Failure to disclose his assets, poor judicial appointments, abusive bodyguards, undeclared property upgrades and litigiousness have led to questions about his continued presence as South African President, although he was re-elected in 2014. However, that isn't South Africa's only problem. One of its most serious failings centres on the ghastly phenomenon of anti-lesbian rape and homicide known as "corrective rape". The latter phrase is used because the 'intention' is to 'turn' the lesbian victim straight, or insure her conformity with gender stereotypes, especially if she is butch-identified. The term is controversial and the United Nations has suggested thathomophobic rapeis a more accurate description of this misogynist and homophobic hate crime. According to Wikipedia, homophobic rape results in HIV infection, unwanted pregnancies, suicide, physical and psychological trauma. Apart from South Africa, it has also been noted in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Jamaica- all African nations, or within the African diaspora, although it has also been noted in Thailand and Ecuador. Lesbian visibility, geographical isolation, negligent police and civil authority attitudes toward such hate crimes and community tolerance of homophobia and homophobic violence are noted as contributing factors, as well as strict gender roles and division of labour, economic inequality, the absence of a specific criminal penalty for this specific offence or antigay/antilesbian hate crimes generally. Only one anti-lesbian homicide has resulted in a successful prosecution and conviction of an offender since 1998. Homophobic rape is said to be on the rise, and is under reported due to lack of confidence in the South African judicial system. The Triangle Project, South African Centre for Applied Psychology, Luleki Sizwe and OUT LGBT Well-Being have all analysed homophobic rape and its incidence and consequences, yet no legislative change has occurred in its wake. In 2011, though, the South African Department of Justice began discussion of a national strategy and current Justice Minister Jeff Radebe is said to favour legislative reform and the passage of hate crimes legislation, with specific reference to homophobic rape. Community welfare organisations are regularly campaigning on the issue. However, black South African lesbians are still being raped and murdered through government action. Nelson Mandela would be ashamed of his 'rainbow nation' if he were still alive to witness this. Recommended: Wikipedia: Corrective_rape Wikipedia: Jacob_Zuma Leah Mwambene and Maudri Wheal: "Realisation or oversight of a constitutional mandate? Corrective rape in South Africa"African Human Rights Law Journal:15:1 (2015): 58-88. Duncan Breen and Stuart Nel: "A Home for All? South Africa and the Need for Hate Crime Legislation"SA Crime Quarterly38 (December 2011 ):33-43 Kamban Naidoo and Michelle Karels: "Hate Crimes Against Black South African Lesbians: Where Race, Sexual Orientation and Gender Collide"Obiter33:2 (2012): 236-259 Amanda Swarr: "Paradoxes of Butchness: Lesbian Masculinity and Sexual Violence in South Africa"Signs: 37:4 (June 2012): 961-986 Megan Morrisey: "Rape as A Weapon of Hate: Discursive Constructions and Material Consequences for Black Lesbians in South Africa"Womens Studies in Communication: 36:1: February 2013: 72-91 Sabine Herschauer: "Rape and the State: Sexual Violence and Its Political Narrative and Othering in 21st Century South Africa"Africa Insight: 44:1:June 2014: 84-102. Craig Young - 7th March 2016    
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