Corrective Rape Petition Causes Chaos for South African Authorities
Melanie Nathan- Jan 12-2011—
The petition “South Africa Declare Corrective Rape a Hate-Crime” hit the all-time high of 135,000 signatures on 4 January, 2011 – what a way to begin the New Year! The petition is still up and still growing – it is currently standing on a 135, 235… and still growing by the minute! The publicity for the plight of corrective rape victims was partly birthed here on LezGetReal when Ndumie Funda reached out to us back in 2009. After publishing the story and horrific pictures of “corrective” rape survivor, Millicent Gaika, I continued to follow the story and some twenty articles later, with approximately 60,000 page hits and over 16,000 shares on Face book, watched as awareness of the endemic crisis in South Africa made it to the pages of other media outlets as well as the conscience of activists in the UK and other countries.
When Ndumie first contacted me, she was caring for a fifteen lesbians, victims of so called corrective rape- in Gugulethu, near Cape Town South Africa. They were desperate, no food and no money and on the verge of eviction from their flooded two room shack. I reached out to my South African contacts a large group of white privileged lesbians in South Africa, but no one helped. I reached out to the SA authorities and they were non responsive, I sent letters to US Consul, no answer. Finally I sent a month of my own mortgage money from the USA and also a dear cousin in Cape Town, Judy Favish, paid a visit taking money and supplies to Ndumie and the lesbian survivors.
Still raising money was slow, and then we started to hear from people abroad – Jules Hussey in the UK, and others jumped in and secured a large contribution from LUSH a cosmetic UK Company – which enabled Ndumie to buy a safe house for vicitms. See http://www.lush.co.uk/articles/our-charity-support/groups-we-support/luleki-sizwe_1013-10154_10.html
We continued with our stories about the ridiculous bail, and the arrest and re-release of the known perpetrators, we reported more rapes, and suicides of victims and did this for the best part of a year until now when the resulting Petition drew so many signatures that the SA authorities can barely cope.
Millicent Gaika days after the attack
Soon a Petition appeared on Change.org and who have over 135, 000 signatures from 163 countries, and local and international Media attention; we have been interviewed by KayaFM, BBC, had articles LeZgetReal, The Argus, Business Day, and The Sowetan, and requests for interviews from the SABC, Voice of America, and many more national and international Media Houses! The signatures were collected in a matter of a month.
According to the article in the Business Day:
Justice spokesman Tlali Tlali acknowledged the receipt of the e-mails yesterday. “We view this matter in a serious light. Whether it is labelled as corrective rape or something else, it does not detract from the fact that (it is) … rape, punishable under our law regardless of what motivates those behind it to do so. “We have interacted with the (National Prosecuting Authority) and have requested them to look into these cases,” he said.
When Ndumie Funda finally managed to contact the Justice Department this morning, she was told by a visibly irritated Tlali-Tlali that he needs time until the 15th to respond to our petition, and he was not willing to set up a meeting with us at this time. (The only response to change.org when the petition was still on about 60,000, was a terse email from Tlali Tlali, the minister’s chief of staff, to Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org, saying that the minister finds it “wholly unnecessary for you to send so many individualized emails whose content is the same… You have made it virtually impossible for us to access other emails as doing so is like looking for a needle in a haystack.” )
Well, Mr Tlali-Tlali, we have news for you – you have not seen anything yet! LulekiSizwe, with the help of change.org, and continued help of LezGetReal, is bringing in all the local and international big-guns to fight the good fight!
DEMANDING a meeting with Minister Radebe to put the case to him, and these are the short-term goals being demanded –
- We want the Government to acknowledge the existence of “Corrective Rape” ~ currently they are trying to deny that such a thing exists.
- The introduction into the school-syllabus of anti-homophobic instruction and information, for the educators and the pupils, as a lot of the rapes and homophobic bullying occurs in schools, by pupils and educators.
- A FEMALE officer who is trained to handle all aspects of rape on duty at ALL police stations 24/7 , or a social worker trained in the same at ALL police stations.
- Anti-homophobic training for ALL South African Police Members! (The detective who took Millie’s first statement was a drunk, homophobic male!)
- A minimum bail amount for LGBTI violent crimes, and no chance of getting out on bail again if they break bail conditions (Andile R60)
- A Minimum sentence of 25-life for corrective rape!
- The right to a speedy trial – currently the court-cases are taking years! (howcome the Anni Dewani trial could be handled so quickly, yet our local rapes and murders take years?)
- Victim assistance in the form of safe-houses when needed, as the perpetrator usually goes to the same school or lives in the same area as the victim, and they are traumatized and threatened daily.
- A Task force to deal with LGBTQI crimes, or at least 1 detective @ each Police Station (especially in the townships) that handles all the LGBTI cases, so that they know what they are dealing with and how to handle the cases, as each time it is a different detective and there is no continuity.
- A clampdown on the bribery and corruption at Police Stations and Courts, where the dockets are often “lost”
Millicent Gaika’s case comes to trial again Next Month in Wynberg magistrates Court.
Petition needs 15,000 more signatures to reach its goal.
By Melanie Nathan
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