In a continuation of a frightening epidemic, another so-called “corrective rape” in South Africa has ended in the gruesome murder of a 24-year old lesbian in Kwa Thema township outside Johannesburg.
Noxolo Nogwaza was killed on April 24 in what appears to be an attempt by straight males to “cure” her of her homosexuality – known by the terrible phrase “corrective rape.” Noxolo’s face and body were disfigured by stoning, and she was stabbed several times. A broken beer bottle, a large rock, and several used condoms were found near her mangled body.
No arrests have been made, and Nogwaza was buried this past weekend. Her funeral was attended by 2,000 people, who were enraged by the lack of action by the police. Supporters were singing songs that they would use razor blades to cut off the genitals of the perpetrators, and many were holding signs proclaiming, “Love me or hate me, I will continue to be a lesbian,” and, “Raping me won’t change me.”
As a member of the Ekurheleni Pride Organising Committee, a gay rights group, Nogwaza was a highly visible lesbian in the township, and was outspoken about the lack of gay rights – especially for lesbians. Shockingly, this was the same town where international football star, and lesbian, Eudy Simelane, was violently tortured, raped and murdered in an apparent “corrective rape” nearly 3 years ago.
Dipika Nath, a researcher in the LGBT Rights program at Human Rights Watch, told the Guardian:
Nogwaza’s death is the latest in a long series of sadistic crimes against lesbians, gay men and transgender people in South Africa.
The vicious nature of the assault is a potent reminder that these attacks are premeditated, planned and often committed with impunity.
Like sexual assaults of women in general, rapes and other violence against lesbians and gender non-conforming people have reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. If the South African government is committed to protecting the rights of all people equally, leaders must address the specific motives targeting the LGBT community in these crimes.
And yet police spokesman Tshisikhawe Ndou told Agence France-Presse, “We do not have evidence to conclude that the crime was committed against her based on the fact of her sexual orientation. It is just purely murder and rape that we are investigating at this stage.”
After a record-breaking 170,000 people from 163 countries signed a Change.org petition, The South African government has finally agreed to set up a national working group to address the issue of “corrective rape.” It’s about time, and we hope that this most recent death motivates the government to act faster and more effectively. This abhorrent epidemic has got to stop!