Corrective rape

Corrective rape is a hate crime in which one or more people are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The common intended consequence of the rape, as seen by the perpetrator, is to turn the person heterosexual or to enforce conformity with gender stereotypes.[1][2][3]

The term corrective rape was coined in South Africa after well-known cases of corrective rapes of lesbians such as Eudy Simelane (who was also murdered in the same attack) and Zoliswa Nkonyana became public. Although some countries have laws protecting LGBT people, corrective rape is often overlooked.[4][5]


Corrective rape is the use of rape against people who do not conform to perceived social norms regarding human sexuality or gender roles. The goal is to punish perceived abnormal behavior and reinforce societal norms.[6][2] The crime was first identified in South Africa,[7] where it is sometimes supervised by members of the woman's family or local community.[1]

The United Nations UNAIDS 2015 Terminology Guidelines suggests that the term corrective rape should no longer be used, as it gives off the perception that something needs to be fixed. The guidelines propose that the term homophobic rape should be used instead.[8]

Contributing factors and motivations

Corrective rape is a hate crime.[9] However, due to homophobia and heteronormativity, hate crimes based on sexuality (as opposed to race, gender, class, age, etc.) are often not recognized by authorities.[10] A 2000 study suggested an atmosphere supportive of hate crimes against gay men and lesbians, reactions to hate crimes by the broader community, and responses by police and justice systems contribute to corrective rape.[1]

Some people believe corrective rape can "fix" people who do not conform to gender norms or who are not heterosexual. ActionAid reports that survivors remember being told that they were being taught a lesson.[11] Some perpetrators of the hate crime are impelled by a sense of misogyny and chauvinism.[12]

Some sources argue that many cases of corrective rape are caused by drawing moral conclusions from the nature–nurture debate. Despite the scientific community believing that sexual orientation is the result of biology and environment,[13][14][15] many people do not believe that homosexuality (or other forms of non-heterosexuality) has a genetic basis and instead believe it is only the result of one's environment. Because of this, some of these people believe sexual orientation can be changed or, as they see it, fixed.[16][17][18]


Intersectionality is intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. In South Africa, black lesbians face homophobia, sexism, racism, and classism. Research in 2008 by Triangle, a gay rights group, revealed that black lesbians were twice as afraid of sexual assault compared to white lesbians.[11] In addition, black women who identify as lesbians are seen as "un-African" by their peers.[10] Taking into account race and sexuality together is essential when examining corrective rape, as both subjects cross into each other and influence each other heavily.[19]

Intersectionality plays a major role in corrective rape cases, as many occur in underdeveloped countries such as South Africa and India in which race, class, and gender are factors in the rights an individual will receive. Sexuality and gender especially, define the social and political rank of victims. Many are ostracized, and other abusive measures are taken in order to cure individuals of their sexuality.

Impact on victims

Corrective rape and other accompanying acts of violence can result in physical and psychological trauma, mutilation, unwanted pregnancy, and may contribute to suicide.[4][6][20] Corrective rape is a major contributor to HIV infection in South African lesbians.[6] In South Africa approximately 10% of lesbians are HIV positive, with corrective rape being the most likely cause.[21] HIV in South Africa is pandemic, and due to homophobia there is a lack of education about sexually transmitted diseases among lesbians. Homophobic laws and discrimination in South Africa contribute to the poor quality of health care for minorities.

The psychological effects of corrective rape on victims can be detrimental. Many victims in countries such as South Africa and India where corrective rape is most prevalent suffer from a strong sense of insecurity and disempowerment due to strong homophobia in their communities. This homophobia can lead to both physical and psychological violence. There have been at least 30 lesbians who have been murdered in South Africa in the last 15 years because of their sexual orientation. However, violence against the LGBTQ community in South Africa is seldom reported.[19] Survivors of corrective rape suffer from triple discrimination for being a female, black, and homosexual.[19] This is especially true in South African townships, where corrective rape is common for lesbian women.[22] Corrective rape victims may suffer from depression, anxiety, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.[21] Due to racial and sexual discrimination in health care, victims must often deal with these issues on their own.[19]


Corrective rape has been reported in Thailand,[23] Zimbabwe,[24][25] Ecuador,[26] Uganda,[27] South Africa,[28] Jamaica,[29] and India.


Children in India have been speaking out about how their parents are sanctioning the child's sexuality by using "corrective rape therapy" (same as corrective rape).[30] Corrective rape in India typically happens in order to protect the family name, to avoid shaming from religious communities, and to prevent abnormal perception by the surrounding community. In India, there is a general discomfort with discussing homosexuality, even if an individual identifies as homosexual. This discomfort comes from the overall negative attitude towards homosexuality and the fact is that individuals in India who identify as homosexual are victimized at a higher rate. There is also a high level of negativity towards the trans community in India. Religious commitments tend to be very strong in traditional cultures and this is where much of the tension and poor perception came from. According to statistics from the Crisis Intervention Team of LGBT Collective in Telangana, India, there have been 15 reported instances of corrective rape that have been reported in the last 5 years.[31] In general, there has been a 902 percent increase in reported rapes in India from 1971 to 2012; however, it is estimated that 90% of sex crimes in the country go unreported.[32]


A U.S. State Department report on Zimbabwe states, "In response to social pressure, some families reportedly subjected their LGBT members to corrective rape and forced marriages to encourage heterosexual conduct. Such crimes were rarely reported to police. Women, in particular, were subjected to rape by male family members."[33] Following the publication of an earlier report with similar wording,[34] Zimbabwean journalist Angus Shaw said that lesbian women are raped by men to make them enjoy heterosexual acts and gay men are raped by women to remove their sexual orientation tendencies.[35]

South Africa

In South Africa, women have less sexual and economic power than men.[37] One of the factors associated with this inequality is strict gender roles, which has led to one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world.[23][38] The South African government conducted a survey in 2009 on sexual assault. One in four men admit to having sex with a woman who did not consent and nearly half of these men admitted to raping more than once.[39] It is also estimated that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa.[11] Corrective rape is used as a punishment for people who are gay or do not fit traditional gender roles (usually women), where often they are verbally abused before the rape. The perpetrator may claim to be teaching [the women] a lesson on how to be a "real woman".[2] Because women have less control over their economics, which creates economic vulnerability, they have less control over their own sexual activities.[23] Poor black women who live in townships are more likely to become victims of corrective violence, and gay women are more likely to be isolated with little support, which increases their chances of being targeted.[5][20]

The South African Constitution is one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. It states that no person shall be discriminated against based on his or her gender, race, or sexual orientation.[11][23][40] The Equality Act of 2000 specifically bans hate crimes, crimes in which people are targeted because of one or more aspects of their identity.[11] Although this technically includes crimes based on sexual orientation, in practice such cases are not brought to trial.[11] Crimes based on sexual orientation are not expressly recognized in South Africa; corrective rape reports are not separated from general rape reports.[5][20] In December 2009, there had been 31 recorded murders of lesbians in South Africa since 1998, but only one had resulted in a conviction.[23]

The reason for this discrepancy between the law and practice is a result of heteronormativity and homophobia in South Africa. Heteronormativity can be defined as "the institutions, structures of understanding, and practical orientations that make heterosexuality not only seem coherent—that is organised as a sexuality—but also privileged".[9] Some historians believe the heteronormativity in South Africa can be attributed to the nation's postcolonial years of racism, and it appears that today many South Africans are recommitted to their traditional heritage.[19] Black South African lesbians are not included in this social construction, and this leads back to the concept of intersectionality. Black lesbians in South Africa are not only excluded because of their sexual orientation but also because of their ethnicity. As displayed in the media, most homosexuality is displayed as white, leaving black lesbians in South African even more marginalized.[19] In South Africa, homosexuality is regarded as "un-African" by some.[9] In 2004, the Human Science Research Council found that 78% of the respondents thought of homosexuality as unacceptable. According to Human Rights Watch, in the last 20 years, attitudes toward homosexuality have become worse in South Africa.[41]

Corrective rape is on the rise in South Africa. More than 10 lesbians are raped weekly to correct their sexual preferences, as estimated by Luleki Sizwe, a South African nonprofit.[9][42] It is estimated that at least 500 lesbians become victims of corrective rape every year and that 86% of black lesbians in the Western Cape live in fear of being sexually assaulted, as reported by the Triangle Project in 2008.[5] Yet victims of corrective rape are less likely to report it because of the negative social view of homosexuality.[5] Under-reporting is high for sexually violent crimes, thus the number of corrective rapes are likely higher than what is reported.[5]

Although it is thought to be uncommon, men also become victims of corrective rape. A study conducted by OUT LGBT Well-being and the University of South Africa Centre for Applied Psychology (UCAP) showed that "the percentage of black gay men who said they have experienced corrective rape matched that of the black lesbians who partook in the study".[43] However, not all men admit to being victims of corrective rape.

One South African man stated, "Lesbians get raped and killed because it is accepted by our community and by our culture."[28] Kekelesto explained that her experience as "where men try to turn you into a real African woman" and that she was being taught how to be a black woman.[2]

Galip Asvat, a successful hair salon business owner, is a gay man born in Klerksdorp. He moved to Hillbrow, which was a haven for the LGBT community, in the early 2000s.[44] One early morning in 2007, Asvat was ambushed and raped by three men in his apartment building. On his attack, he said, "They thought I was a woman, and when they found out I was a man, that's when they became even more violent."[44] His beating was brutal and the gang of men nearly cut off his genitals.

Sizakele Sigasa, a lesbian activist living in Soweto, and her partner Salome Masooa were raped, tortured, and murdered in July 2007. South African lesbian-gay rights organizations, including the umbrella-group Joint Working Group, said the attack was driven by lesbophobia.[36] Two other rape/murders of lesbians occurred in South Africa earlier in Summer 2007: Simangele Nhlapo, member of an HIV-positive support group was raped and murdered in June, along with her two-year-old daughter; and Madoe Mafubedu, age 16, was raped and stabbed to death.[45]

On 28 April 2008, 31-year-old soccer player Eudy Simelane was abducted, gang-raped and killed in KwaThema, her hometown near Johannesburg.[38][46] Simelane was a star of the South Africa's acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, an avid equality rights campaigner, and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in KwaThema.[46]

On 24 April 2011, LGBT activist Noxolo Nogwaza was raped and murdered in KwaThema.[47]

In 2013, two writers from South African men's magazine FHM were fired as a result of corrective rape jokes they made on Facebook. After a disciplinary hearing on Friday, July 19, 2013, FHM dismissed both men from their positions, calling their comments "entirely unacceptable".[48]

South Africa is a signatory of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which obligates states to remove discriminatory barriers from the full and free exercise of rights by women. The Convention's duty to modify the conduct of private citizens to ensure equality for women covers attitudes that include the inferiority of women and stereotyped gender roles, which arguably encompass the animus toward gay women that motivates many men to commit corrective rape.[5] 66% of South Africa women said they did not report their attack because they would not be taken seriously.[6] Of these, 25% said they feared exposing their sexual orientation to the police and 22% said they were afraid of being abused by the police.[6]

In August 2011, the Department of Justice established a National Task Team (NTT) to address the issue of hate crimes against LGBT people.[49] In April 2014, then Minister of Justice Jeff Radebe launched a National Intervention Strategy for the LGBTI Sector developed by the NTT to address sex-based violence and gender-based violence against members of the community. The NTT has established a rapid response team to attend to unsolved criminal cases as a matter of urgency and produced an information pamphlet with frequently asked questions about LGBTI persons. Radebe stated that the Department of Justice acknowledged the need for a specific legal framework for hate crimes and that the matter would be subjected to public debate.[50][51][52]

In March 2011, there was an article published that stated that there are about 10 new cases of corrective rape a week in Cape Town.[53] Cape Town, South Africa specifically has 2.5 million people and since 2011, the prevalence of Corrective Rape has only increased.


Five cases in which the victims were lesbians or transgender males were reported in Uganda between June and November, 2011.[27]


Amnesty International has received reports of violence against lesbians in Jamaica, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. Lesbians reportedly have been attacked on the grounds of mannish physical appearance or other visible signs of sexuality. Some reports of abduction and rape come from inner-city communities, where local non-governmental organizations have expressed concerns about high incidences of violence against women.[29]

Campaigning and activism

Child sponsorship charity ActionAid has published an article discussing corrective rape, and see ending violence against women as a pivotal part of their mission.[6] The group joined with 26 gay and women’s rights and community groups, to organize a campaign focused on South Africa but also aimed at the international community, to raise awareness of the issues. The campaign was dedicated to raising awareness about the rape and murder of two lesbian women in a Johannesburg township and called for sexual orientation to be specifically recognised as grounds for protection by police and justice systems.[6]

Ndumie Funda, a South African Social Justice Activist, started her work to end Corrective Rape by launching a social campaign on in hopes to have the South African Government recognize hate crimes committed due to biases against sexual orientation and provide protection for victims. This particular petition ended up gathering almost 200 thousand signatures from individuals making up over 175 different countries-this forced the government to recognize this issue. The government agreed to meeting Funda and in 2014 South Africa passed its first law against hate crimes.[54]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Bartle, EE (2000). "Lesbians And Hate Crimes". Journal of Poverty. 4 (4): 23–44. CiteSeerX doi:10.1300/J134v04n04_02.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Fadi Baghdadi (June 28, 2013). "Corrective Rape of black lesbian women in Post-Apartheid South Africa: investigating the symbolic violence and resulting misappropriation of symbolic power that ensues within a nexus of social imaginaries". A Night of Dostoevskian Smiles and Sadean excesses. Retrieved 12 March 2017 via
  3. Thompson, Sherwood (2014). Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice. 1. Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield. p. 475. ISBN 1442216042.
  4. 1 2 Hawthorne, Susan. "Ancient Hatred And Its Contemporary Manifestation: The Torture Of Lesbians." Journal of Hate Studies 4.1 (2005): 33–58. Academic Search Complete.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Di Silvio, Lorenzo (2011). "Correcting Corrective Rape: Carmichele and Developing South Africa's Affirmative Obligations To Prevent Violence Against Women". Georgetown Law Journal. 99: 1469–515. SSRN 1709629.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Martin, A; Kelly A; Turquet L; Ross S (2009). "Hate crimes: The rise of 'corrective rape' in South Africa" (pdf). ActionAid. pp. 1–20. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
  7. Janoff, Douglas. Pink Blood: Homophobic Violence in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2005. ISBN 0802085709
  8. United Nations. "UNAIDS 2015 Terminology Guidelines" (PDF). Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "EBSCO Publishing Service Selection Page". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  10. 1 2 "EBSCO Publishing Service Selection Page". Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "ActionAid" (PDF). ActionAid. 2009. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  12. Reddy, Vasu, Cheryl-Ann Potgieter, and Nonhlanhla Mkhize. "Cloud over the rainbow nation:'corrective rape'and other hate crimes against black lesbians." (2007).
  13. Frankowski BL; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence (June 2004). "Sexual orientation and adolescents". Pediatrics. 113 (6): 1827–32. doi:10.1542/peds.113.6.1827. PMID 15173519.
  14. Mary Ann Lamanna, Agnes Riedmann, Susan D Stewart (2014). Marriages, Families, and Relationships: Making Choices in a Diverse Society. Cengage Learning. p. 82. ISBN 1305176898. Retrieved February 11, 2016. The reason some individuals develop a gay sexual identity has not been definitively established  – nor do we yet understand the development of heterosexuality. The American Psychological Association (APA) takes the position that a variety of factors impact a person's sexuality. The most recent literature from the APA says that sexual orientation is not a choice that can be changed at will, and that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological shaped at an early age...[and evidence suggests] biological, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality (American Psychological Association 2010).
  15. Gail Wiscarz Stuart (2014). Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Nursing. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 502. ISBN 032329412X. Retrieved February 11, 2016. No conclusive evidence supports any one specific cause of homosexuality; however, most researchers agree that biological and social factors influence the development of sexual orientation.
  16. McCommon B (2006). "Antipsychiatry and the Gay Rights Movement". Psychiatr Serv 57 (12): 1809. doi:10.1176/
  17. Rissmiller DJ, Rissmiller J; Rissmiller (2006). "Letter in reply". Psychiatr Serv 57 (12): 1809–1810. doi:10.1176/
  18. Ladie Terry. (1994) 'ORPHANS' SPEAK OUT. San Jose Mercury News (California) Tuesday MORNING FINAL EDITION. December 13, 1994
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Rape as a Weapon of Hate: Discursive Constructions and Material Consequences of Black Lesbianism in South Africa". Women's Studies in Communication. Feb 2013.
  20. 1 2 3 Mabuse, Nkepile. "Horror of South Africa's 'corrective Rape.'" CNN. Cable News Network, 28 Oct. 2011.
  21. 1 2 du Toit, Louise (2014). "Shifting Meanings of Postconflict Sexual Violence in South Africa". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 40: 101. doi:10.1086/676895. JSTOR 10.1086/676895.
  22. Nduna, Mzikazi (2012). "Disempowerment And Psychological Distress In The Lives Of Young People In Eastern Cape, South Africa". Journal of Child and Family Studies. 21 (6): 1018. doi:10.1007/s10826-011-9564-y.
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 Mieses, Alexa (December 2009). "Gender Inequality and Corrective Rape of Women Who Have Sex with Women" (pdf). GMHC Treatment Issues. Gay Men's Health Crisis. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  24. Shaw, Angus (7 April 2010). "US Reports Harassment and Rape of Gays in Zimbabwe". Salon. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  25. "Cultural Practices in the family that are violent towards women" (pdf). Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 31 January 2002. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  26. Caselli, I (10 February 2012). "'Corrective Rape,' Torture among Methods Used to 'cure' Homosexuality in Ecuador". Alaska Dispatch. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  27. 1 2 Smith, David (18 May 2012). "Gay African refugees face abduction, violence and rape in Uganda and Kenya". The Guardian. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  28. 1 2 Middleton, Lee. "'Corrective Rape': Fighting a South African Scourge." Time. Time, 8 Mar. 2011.
  29. 1 2 Czyzselska, Jane. "No Woman No Cry: Lesbians in Jamaica". GayTimes.
  30. "Victims of Corrective Rape Speak Up". Times of India. June 2015.
  31. MM Vetticad, Anna (10 July 2014). "India's Bollywood Speaks Out Against Rape". Newspaper.
  32. "India's Bollywood speaks out against rape". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  33. "2012 Human Rights Reports: Zimbabwe". U.S. Department of State. April 19, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  34. "2009 Human Rights Report: Zimbabwe". U.S. Department of State. April 19, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  35. Gonda, W (8 April 2010). "'Corrective Rape' against Homosexuals on the Rise in Zimbabwe". SW Radio Africa.
  36. 1 2 Ndaba, Baldwin. "'Hate crime' against lesbians slated". IOL News. Archived from the original on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  37. Mantell, Joanne; Needham, Sarah; Smit, Jennifer Ann; Hoffman, Susie; Cebekhulu, Queen; Adams-Skinner, Jessica; Exner, Theresa; Mabude, Zonke; Beksinska, Mags; Stein, Zena; Milford, Cecilia (February 2009). "Gender norms in South Africa: implications for HIV and pregnancy prevention among African and Indian women students at a South African tertiary institution". Culture, Health & Sexuality. 11 (2): 139–157. doi:10.1080/13691050802521155. PMC 2782559. PMID 19247859.
  38. 1 2 "Stop the Violence – Live Updates from South Africa." Archived 4 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Human Rights Watch. 11 Feb. 2009.
  39. Carter, Clare. "The Brutality of "Corrective Rape"". Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  40. Mabuse, Nkepile. "'Corrective Rape' Motivated by Hate." World's Untold Stories. CNN. London, 7 Nov. 2011.
  41. Hazelton, Liz. "Raped for Being Gay: Scourge of South African Sex Attacks Which Men Claim Will 'cure' Women of Being Lesbians." Mail Online. Daily Mail, 31 Oct. 2011.
  42. "South African lesbians at risk for 'corrective rape". Contemporary Sexuality. 45 (7): 8. 2011.
  43. Louw, Angelo. "Men are also 'corrective rape' victims". Mail&Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  44. 1 2 Louw, Angelo. "Men are also 'corrective rape' victims". Mail&Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  45. Pithouse, Richard. "Only Protected on Paper". The South African Civil Society Information Service. Archived from the original on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  46. 1 2 Kelly, Annie (12 March 2009). "Raped and Killed for Being a Lesbian: South Africa Ignores 'corrective' Attacks". The Guardian.
  47. "South Africa killing of lesbian Nogwaza 'a hate crime'". BBC News. 3 May 2011. Archived from the original on 29 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  48. Reporter, Staff. "FHM fires writers over rape comments".
  49. "Team starts work on gay hate crimes". IOL News. SAPA-DPA. 10 August 2011. Archived from the original on 20 July 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  50. "National Intervention Strategy for LGBTI Sector 2014" (PDF). Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  51. "Radebe launches LGBTI violence programme". IOL. SAPA. 29 April 2014. Archived from the original on 20 July 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  52. Diale, Lerato (30 April 2014). "Plan to combat gender violence". The New Age. Archived from the original on 20 July 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  53. "Activism makes inroads on 'corrective rape'". IRIN. 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  54. "Activist takes on mission against "corrective" rape". Retrieved 2016-05-02.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.