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Aug 17 2007

HateWatch 2007: South Africa

Are your horizons unbroad? Your existence eked out within a 5-mile radius of your living room? Your perspectives tinted by your position on the geopolitical map? Well, that’s what I’m here for. I bring you a nugget of horror to remind you that being a woman isn’t just about the right to a disfiguring boob job.

While Oprah hand-picks the gals with the most “moxie” for her zillion-dollar leadership/beauty school, South African thugs have been raping and murdering lesbians. Among the most recent wave of executions were prominent Soweto AIDS activists Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa, found dead of multiple gunshot wounds on July 8. Although South Africa has amended its constitution to disallow discrimination against lesbians and gays, it has no hate crime legislation. Homophobia continues to flourish, which leads to assertions that vastly more numerous incidents of anti-GLBT violence have taken place than have been reported; victims themselves are closeted, or their families don’t want anything to do with The Gay. Like the US, this is a country with leaders who like to trample over two or three hundred human rights before breakfast. Which South African official suggests lemon and garlic as a cure for HIV? That’s right. The health minister.

You will not find reports on this story without venturing out beyond Google News. As far as dykes in the media are concerned, murdered black South African lesbians are not 1/1000th as riveting as an upcoming “steamy lesbian romp” featuring Portia de Rossi in some cable TV dudefantasy.

More information about this and other gay-in-Africa issues at Behind the Mask.

15 comments

  1. Jezebella

    http://www.blacklooks.org has been doing a thorough job of covering anti-gay violence and murder throughout Africa.

    Of course, they ain’t exactly Google News, either, are they?

  2. Reverend B. Dagger Lee

    They could solve this problem in one fell swoop by doing what Nigeria is in the process of doing and just criminalizing homosexual relationships; then there wouldn’t be any lesbians, just criminals. It’s not murder with criminals, it’s execution.

    Mbeki is a loathesome fuckhead. And where did the loathesome fuckheads who believe HIV doesn’t cause AIDS and advising Mbeki on AIDS policy come from? The ones going on consultation jaunts to Africa? Why here! Land of angels and miracles! Why if you gobble enough of the right vitamins you won’t get ill, ever.

  3. thebewilderness

    I’m thinking it was Janeway who said, the greatest power is the power to decide what is important. Gagh. I blame every man in the media who thinks it is kewel to leer and humiliate his female co-workers on national television, every producer who thinks reporting the wholesale slaughter of women would jeopardize their position in the patriarchy. I blame the Patriarchy, and we need to bring it DOWN.

  4. H

    Further depressing news from SA:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6917332.stm

  5. thebewilderness

    It looks like the men in that township finally got fed up with how much more time consuming it is to rape a woman with pants on. Lard, how the patriarchs hate to be inconvenienced.

  6. Miller

    This is the same country that has a widespread girl rape epidemic (and not just standard pedophilia, which is disturbing in itself). The Mbeki administration believes HIV/AIDS is a conspiracy theory and, thus, allows his people to think that you can cure yourself of this lethal disease by having “sex” (most likely rape) with a virgin. Hence, the brutal raping of even days-old infants, even to the point that the baby girls are gang-raped to within an inch of their life. One girl I read about was literally torn in half and, although she survived, couldn’t muster an emotion–at all. Girls there have a higher chance of being raped (more than once) than being able to read.

    This is the same country, in which on the nation’s top politicians was charged with raping an HIV/AIDS activist (who is HIV positive herself) and was acquitted. Before the attack she tried telling him that he would be risking himself in attacking her, but he went ahead with the rape anyway. The acquitted rapist later confessed to setting a poor example of having “sex” without a condom. Oh and the best part was that this woman was greeted outside the courthouse with a mob of hundreds of men changing, “Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!” and threatening to rape and kill her.

    Sadly, the level of anti-female violence in that country is truly breathtaking.

  7. genevievetaggard

    And this from CNN last night (must point out that emailing the article to myself last night failed, so I did a search of “iraq women” at CNN and the first three hits were paid ads for hooking up with women – sigh!)

    Iraqi Women: Prostituting Ourselves for Our Children
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/08/15/iraq.prostitution/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

    More and more Iraqi women are turning to prostitution, since the American invasion, just to survive, earning about $8 a day. One woman explains how she was a cleaning woman and started being propositioned. Others explain that their families still think they are out cleaning houses. One woman has sex for money with her three children in the room, although she stations them in different corners of the room.

    And Bushies keep saying, “The world is better off without Saddam,” and I ask, “Whose world?”

    This quote from the article should be tattooed on my body somewhere, perhaps on the inside of my eyelids:

    “People shouldn’t criticize women or talk badly about them. They all say we have lost our way, but they never ask why we have had to take this path.”

    Another quote: “Most of the women that we find at hospitals that have tried to commit suicide have been involved in prostitution” (but isn’t the chance to sell oneself just another capitalist choice? ).

    Another: One woman prostitutes because she would rather that than see her 17 year old son exposed to the dangers of bombings in the streets. Another says, “Everything is for the children. They are the beauty in life, and, without them, we can not live….I would never allow my daughter to do this. I would rather marry her off at 13 than have her go through this.”

    I got married at 17, twenty-two years ago, and, sister, I’m not sure marrying her off in the patriarchy is, over the long haul, that far from seeing her prostitute herself. Maybe just my own bitterness, but there it is.

  8. Rainbow Girl

    I’ve said it before and I will say it now: 1994 marked the end of racial apartheid in South Africa. Sexual Apartheid is alive and well.

  9. balom

    What can we expect from South Africa. The place has the highest rape rate in the world. Rape there is like saying hello

  10. thebewilderness

    No, no it isn’t. Rape is not like saying hello, there or anywhere else. Do not even bring that dismissive ‘there’s nothing to be done’ attitude, and that racist subtext crap to this horrific situation.
    If I have misread you, I will apologize.

  11. Rainbow Girl

    I agree with thebewilderness. The African continent is given a very particular resting place in our minds: a place where violence and poverty are expected and considered normal. This is grossly wrong. All the TIA-ing I heard since that fucking movie Blood Diamond came out only reifies this.

    Incidentally, South Africa does not have the highest rape rate in the world. It has the highest reported peace-time rape rate in the world. (I am using the term “peace-time” in the traditionally understood sense, certainly it is a misnomer in most countries of the world where women are prey)

    Conflict zones such as Eastern DR Congo and Darfur, not to mention past trouble areas where ethnic violence was extended to the very bodies of women and girls, have higher rates of sexual violence against women and girls. The difference is that in Congo and Darfur there is some underlying conquest of land/people/victory, while in South Africa it is a war against women in its own sake. I would also be critical about the types of rape that are reported here-South Africa has very high levels of violent street crime which is what gets centre attention, but how do their marital rape stats compare to those of other countries? I would imagine that information would give us a slightly different picture.

    South African women have been outspoken in their outrage. Our acceptance is a betrayal.

  12. Rainbow Girl

    Another note: the female literacy rate in South Africa is 85%. The claim that “girls have a higher chance of being raped than learning to read” sounds like it is probably true for certain dangerous neighborhoods, not the whole country.

  13. Schia

    This is the same country, in which on the nation’s top politicians was charged with raping an HIV/AIDS activist (who is HIV positive herself) and was acquitted. – Miller

    The character referenced above is the former deputy president, Jacob Zuma. He was fired from that position, but is still the deputy president of the ANC. He was the head of the Moral Regeneration Movement (Ha!), and also sat on a national AIDS committee (!!), prior to being charged with rape. He has also been involved in various shady financial deals.

    He is still very well supported by part of the population, who endorse him for the presidency of the country (I can barely type that without throwing up). The treatment of the victim during the rape trial was so vile it nearly brought me to tears. Women supporters of Zuma burnt her picture outside the court and chanted “Burn the Bitch”. As is customary, the defence called the victim’s sexual history into question, and, infamously, defended Zuma’s “HIV prevention shower”, by saying that “if one put one’s hand into a bucket of HIV fluid, wouldn’t you wash you hand?” (Zuma took a shower after the rape to “prevent contracting HIV”). I’m not kidding, it was that stupid.

    IBTFP.

  14. brightbluelizard

    Er…racism is still very much alive & well. So is tribalism & every other ‘ism you can think of in the new “Rainbow Nation” (gag!). It never ceases to amaze me how naive North Americans can be about this country. They speak about the “end of apartheid” as if their moralizing brought it about. A) Apartheid is still alive & kicking in all its forms (BTW, the ‘isms in South Africa are definitely mutual). B)There were more than 10 black people to every white person even BEFORE so many white (& a few other) South Africans left the country. They would have won regardless of the international erratic intervention.

    I’ll say it again: next time you see an exodus of people from their home country right around an election -PAY ATTENTION!

  15. po-mo sucks

    Rainbow Girl, I hear ya! The fact of the matter is that in the “Western” mind there obtains a type of essentialism which stereotypes Africa in the worst possible way. Movies like “Blood Diamond”, “Out of Africa”, “Hotel Rwanda” and so on do a fantastic job of distorting perceptions. If I may recommend a better portrayal, see “Tsotsi” (2005). A film about South African township life, made by South Africans with South Africans. The lead actor lived for years in a rough part of Pretoria and took the part because of wanting to make a statement about something important. SEE IT! Well worth your time.

    Back to my original point. Essentialism is what enables the line of thinking that we don’t want “their” ways over here, at home, but for “them folks over there it’s just fine and dandy”. We ain’t gonna comment lest there be expectations that we should actually DO something.

    You are right, armed robbery and street crime are horrific in that country. The rape statistics in terms of quantity, victim demographics, and the details of the offence and so on are neauseatingly shocking. The fact that we have stood by all of this silently is shameful to say the least.

    brightbluelizard, I don’t get what you are driving at with “It never ceases to amaze me how naive North Americans can be about this country. They speak about the “end of apartheid” as if their moralizing brought it about. A) Apartheid is still alive & kicking in all its forms (BTW, the ‘isms in South Africa are definitely mutual).” North American, honky, white, however you want to describe it, the rage against mass rape of anything that has an orfice (infant boys also get raped in scores under the “cleanse youself of AIDS” belief) applies accross the board. I very likely misunderstood your comment but I worry that dividing us all into those who “get” Africa and those who don’t only detracts from OUR power as women, and people, to mobilize against horrific treatment that we have to weather no matter where on the map.

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