After catching his 11-year-old autistic son in a “compromising position” with another boy, 29-year-old Alabama resident Sean Cole thought he might be gay. So he had his 20-year-old girlfriend Khadeijah Moore rape and molest his child to “straighten him out.” A court recently found Moore and Cole were recently guilty and could serve lifetime prison sentences. But while their actions just made headline news, corrective rape (and homophobic rape) used as a way to “straighten out” queer people has a sadly global history.
What is corrective rape?
The actual term “corrective rape” originated in 2000 as a term to describe the high number sexual assault against lesbians in South Africa by family or community members. The perpetrators of these rapes see LGBT identity as a choice (rather than one’s biological inborn “nature”) that needs to be “corrected” and use rape as a way to get LGBT people to stop pursuing same-sex relationships.
Of course, it doesn’t work because LGBT identity is typically inborn and doesn’t require “correction.” (In fact, in 2015, United Nations UNAIDS group suggested people stop using the phrase “corrective rape” and use “homophobic rape” instead.)
But despite the term being new, it’s entirely probable that such rapes have occurred for many years before 2000. Incidents of homophobic rape have occurred internationally in places like Ecuador, Jamaica, India, Thailand, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
A depiction of corrective rape even occurs in the 2011 film Gun Hill Road as a father hires a female sex worker to have sex with his transgender daughter as a way of reaffirming her gender assigned at birth.
Here is a trailer for Gun Hill Road:
According to the U.K. child charity, Action AID:
[Homophobic rape] against LGBT people is underpinned by heteronormativity …
the idea, dominant in most societies, that heterosexuality is the only ‘normal’ sexual
orientation, only sexual or marital relations between women and men are acceptable, and each sex has certain natural roles in life, so-called gender roles. In many places, women and men who transcend these norms or challenge these roles face discrimination and violence.
Basically, the logic propelling homophobic rape is the same logic behind so-called ex-gay or conversion therapy.
Although homophobic rape is often used against lesbian women, a 2013 article in the journal Women’s Studies in Communication noted that race, class and gender often play a role in allowing such rapes to happen without punishing the offenders.
That is, the more politically powerless a person is perceived to be, the more likely perpetrators are to target them and the less likely that the survivors will have the community resources to deal with the depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies that can occur as a result.
What do you think of homophobic rape as a global LGBT issue? Sound off in the comments.
Featured image via Unsplash