Corrective rape used in South African woman’s murder?

This is what GLBTQ activists are concluding what happened to a 24-year-old soccer player who was stabbed to death.

Noxolo Nogwaza was attacked late last month after dropping off her girlfriend in Kwa-Thema township near Johannesburg. She was raped, stabbed with broken glass several times and her face pummelled with rocks, Human Rights Watch said. 

“A beer bottle, a large rock and used condoms were found on and near her body,” the rights group said.Earlier this week, the nation’s Justice Ministry set up a task force to address hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender South Africans. The task team was set up after activists worldwide signed an online petition demanding the South African government act to halt the attacks. The call to petition intensified after Nogwaza’s killing. 

Police in Gauteng province, where the township is located, said they have not found any evidence of a hate crime and an investigation is under way. But some gay rights activists disagree. 

“Her attack is a case of corrective rape,” said gay rights activist Lydia Kunu. “Neighbors said they heard her attackers telling her, ‘We will take the lesbian out of you. ‘ They were mocking her and asking her why she acts like a man.”

Despite its post-apartheid constitution banning “prejudice” against gays, these type of attacks continue inside the country. From the July 2009 BBC News article linked above:

Ms Cox says rape is power is South Africa. “The thinking is, all it takes is one good man to cure you of being a lesbian,” she told the BBC’s Newshour programme. Triangle says it deals with up to 10 new cases of corrective rape every week. 

Support groups claim an increasingly aggressive and macho political environment is contributing to the inaction of the police over attacks on lesbians and is part of a growing cultural lethargy towards the high levels of gender-based violence in South Africa

Rape as a whole even corrective rape, is inherently misogynistic and patriarchal. This warped idea that a man and his penis alone can “cure” a woman of that so-called lesbian disease is seeped in cultures that support heterosexuality as the norm and anything else is deemed unnatural, thus needing to be fixed or eliminated.

Rape is a tool used by men to keep women and children within their place in society. Specifically, corrective rape is used by heterosexual men who, much like “regular” rape (if there’s such a thing), to violently remind lesbian women of their insubordination and inferiority. Corrective rape is a tool heterosexual men use to remind lesbian women that they aren’t men (a charged often leveled at lesbian women) and will never be one.

Rape is about controlling and exerting power and dominance over women. Rape is about instilling fear in the hearts and minds of women. It pains me to know there are women in a country as modern as South Africa who continue to face this threat each and every day just because they don’t conform into heterosexual or cisgender norms. It sickens, but doesn’t surprise me, to know there are men out there who are willing to utilize such violence and hatred towards women because they don’t fit their standards of what it means to be a woman.

Ironically, a man’s willingness to and society’s tolerance of rape to put me in my place reminds should remind women of the everlasting second-class citizenship we continue to hold in the global world.

This is indeed a man’s world…