Last week the Namibian Sun reported that a woman was raped because of her sexuality. She was in bed with her girlfriend when a man decided to come in and rape her, because he was so provoked by the fact that she prefers women over men.
Now there are many parts of this situation that are deeply upsetting, but the problem I want to highlight here is the way that these types of crimes are described by mainstream media.
The Namibian Sun writes that the rape happened “…because the rapist wanted to “cure” her of lesbianism. So-called ‘corrective rape’ is a hate crime in which people are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.” When googling the term “corrective rape” it is clear that many major English written newspapers describe the crime in a similar way.
Using the term “corrective rape” is highly problematic – partly because it indicates that the rape has a purpose (that it is something different from “ordinary rape”) and partly because it suggests that there is, in fact, something about the victim that can be “corrected”. Whilst many journalists put the term “corrective rape” and “cure” within quotation marks this does nothing to challenge the hetero norm that dominates our world society. Rather, it reproduces the heterosexual ideal and implies that the victim’s sexuality is the core explanation to why she was subjected to this crime.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for addressing homophobia and its horrible consequences. It’s just that I would like a discussion where the victim is not sensationalised because of her sexuality. We know that most rapes occur as an act of male domination. We live in a patriarchal, heteronormative world and I believe that the mainstream media has great power to challenge the way we think about these issues.
What is happening to LGBTI persons in terms of discrimination, violence, rape and murder is unacceptable and we need to write about it, discuss it and act against it, but using words like “corrective rape” and “cure” (even if they are within quotation marks) is playing in the hands of the homophobic rapists themselves.
A rape is a rape. There is no purpose that can justify it. And if someone decides that he is entitled to abuse another person’s body because of who she chooses to love – then I would like the discussion to be about his messed up mind rather than her sexuality. That just seems more relevant.
You will probably have heard about the Rick Ross controversy concerning his rape lyrics. We have tried to collect the facts and come up with an evaluation that is objective and fair. The lyrics that are debated are these:
Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it.
I took her home and enjoy that. She ain’t even know it.
Continue reading Rick Ross Rapist?
I just got off the phone with someone who shares our concern with the apparently escalating incidences of violence against women and girls in this country.
The caller was not certain whether violence against women really is on the rise or whether it is just that reporting on this issue is increasing. Perhaps he has a point there. In my mind, however, this country is rooted in a culture in which violence against anybody considered to be an underdog was widely accepted and condoned. Dark-skinned people were taught that there was a social hierarchy and that we had to know our places in that hierarchy. Failure to know where you belong, inevitably, would result in the full wrath and violence allowable to the system and the state. Many lost their lives in that manner. Continue reading On Our Culture Of Violence
The last weekend has been a long weekend dedicated to the commemoration of our 23rd year of political independence. As things go in Namibia, our post-long weekend papers reported on all the vile acts that people of this country commit against each other. This time many children were among the victims of rape and sexual assaults that occurred over the weekend. While we are desperately trying to fight becoming desensitised and losing our ability to be outraged by the ongoing violence against women and children, we have to acknowledge that a few more rapes are nothing out of the ordinary in Namibia. Continue reading When a Woman Rapes
I just got flowers delivered to me and I’m giggling like a school girl, feeling like the luckiest woman in the world and wanting to shout off the rooftops what a wonderful man I have in my life and how grateful I am for the male species. Then my attention is drawn to the headline on the paper on my desk and I’m reminded that another life has been lost at the hands of this “wonderful” species. No, I do not hate men and I certainly do not think ‘all men are the same’… I know there are some really good men out there, I can testify. However, it becomes a little difficult to recognise and appreciate them in the wake of what other men are doing. Continue reading No time to smell the roses
When I went to the Zoo Park in Windhoek to watch and take photographs for the Miniskirt Friday demonstration, I realised how exposed I felt. It was not because of the pretty black and white-striped miniskirt I was wearing, and it was not because of the policemen standing with their “manly” guns and batons to control the protesters. It was because of this gang of young men sitting under a tree to watch and yell at the girls (and boys) who gathered to join the demonstration. When they spotted me and saw that I was alone they immediately started to shout obscene comments. One of them came up to me and wanted me to “sit with them in the shadow and talk for a while”. Continue reading The Symbol of Freedom
Jyoti Singh Pandey and Anene Booysen
23 and 17
India and South Africa
These two young women lived in different countries, were raised in different cultures and did not know each other, but they had something in common. Both of them got assaulted, raped and murdered by a gang of men and died by their injuries in front of the eyes of their families.
It doesn’t matter in which country you were born or behind which boundaries you were raised, the hate against women is always there. The question is why. Continue reading Religion, Hate and Culture