The International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally.
Sadly here we are in 2020 and Gender-Based-Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people is still rife.
Let’s begin with the story of Noxolo Nogwaza.
In 2011, 24 year old South African LGBT rights activist Noxolo Nogwaza was was raped and murdered in KwaThema township near Johannesburg. Her face and head were disfigured by stoning and she had been stabbed several times with broken glass. The attack on her is thought to have begun after her assailants had tried to proposition her girlfriend. People living near the murder scene reported hearing men shouting “We will take the lesbian out of you” at around the time of the attack. More than 2,000 people attended Noxolo’s funeral, many denouncing homophobic violence and calling for an end to the practice of so-called “Corrective Rape”. Noxolo left behind 2 young children.
Transphobic and Homophobic violence is real. It manifests its ugly head in the form of aggression, psychological bullying, physical assault, kidnapping, torture and even murder. But the one (well they are all) senseless assault I have really struggled to understand is the so-called corrective rape as in what happened to Noxolo Nogwaza, whereby men rape women who they assumed to be lesbian, on the pretext of trying to cure the women of their homosexuality.
According to the rape survivor charity, Luleki Sizwe, 31 women had been murdered during corrective rape in South Africa over the previous decade – at least 10 lesbians per week were raped in the Cape Town area.
Where do these crimes take place? Bars, pubs, out on the street (Sex-workers in particular), schools, workplaces, in the privacy of their own homes as well as prisons and waiting cells at police stations.
What is our authorities’ responsibility? To enforce the SA Bill of rights.
“The Bill of Rights, enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, includes a guarantee of equality and a prohibition of unfair discrimination on several grounds, including gender, sex and sexual orientation.”
So why do victims not report the violence? We will never really know the stats on how much of this happens even in our own country, South Africa, as the bullying and violence is often not reported to authorities for the fear of secondary bullying happening by authorities. Victimisation, blaming and such happens in police cells and prisons.
How can you play your part?
- Do not judge a person for their lifestyle choices
- Have a zero tolerance for any form of homophobic or transphobic violence
- If you see it on Social Media – report it via the platform
- If you see it happening in the street or any public place – make that call and report it to SAPS