Erstellt am: 24. 9. 2016 - 12:08 Uhr
At least 76 countries have criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people. Many of these are African countries. And though South Africa sometimes stands out as a leading light when it comes to gay rights (because of its constitution which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation), the extent of homophobia and how it morphs into abuse of LGBTI people is worrying.
This was the subject of a Reality Check Special: Out in South Africa, broadcast on Saturday 24th September at 12 midday.
One particular form of violence is so-called 'corrective rape' - used against lesbian women. Ndumie Funda became a prominent campaigner against ‘corrective rape’ because of two personal tragedies. Her friend Luleki Makiwane was raped by her own cousin and died of HIV complications and then, Ndumie’s fiancée, Nomsa, was raped by a gang of men at gunpoint. She later died from contracting HIV during that attack.
Steve Crilley spoke with Ndumie Funda to find out more about her work and her campaign to change South African society when it comes to these horrific crimes.
The title of your organisation Luleki Sizwe comes from the Xhosa language. Can you explain what it means?
Luleki Sizwe means to discipline the nation. I established the organisation in 2008, it was in response to losing two people who were very important in my life. One of them was my late fiancé who died in 2007 and the other was my friend who died in 2005, both of them died because of the HIV virus and they were both victims of corrective rape hate crime. There was then no lesbian organisation in the black community, so I established one in Cape Town. I’m a social justice, human rights defender. As someone who has been working with women, helping them and helping fight child abuse also made me strong in terms of establishing the organisation itself.
It’s horrific and a horrible phrase “corrective rape” but why does it go on?
It’s connected with the way we have been brought up. We are living in a patriarchal society. You’ll find the perpetrators saying (things like) we are raping these young girls to teach them a lesson because they are women. They feel they are changing the women. But truly speaking they are not! They just feel intimidated by the presence of these women.
When a woman reports a rape like this to the police, what generally happens?
There has been an intervention by the government of South Africa but it’s a (long) process. You still find that if they have been arrested they have been granted bail. Some of the cases are not being reported because often people feel if they report, nothing happens. And as far as the police, when one reports a case, the women are heavily scrutinized and told (things like) no wonder you got raped if this is how you dress and portray yourself. So we need to raise the awareness as much as we can and address members across our society and this is what Luleki Sizwe is doing. We need to involve all stakeholders in society and hope for a change in the longrun
I understand you go into some of the most violent areas of townships and talk with young men as well. What response do you get?
You’ll find some young people are willing to work with us in terms of making a change. So when we run these workshops there are some who believe in community and intervention (to help us). But there are also some young people who do not want to address these issues. I’d say half of the youth is there (with us) and half is not there. But we also include religious leaders who are very influential in our community. We also train community leaders and teachers and turn to all members of society and call them to make a change.
How safe if this work for you personally?
To be frank, the work is not easy for me, it’s also risky. Last week, I got attacked by five men when I went to a friend’s house, but I managed to fight back. I realise that I am putting my life in danger because I am at the forefront and I have experienced break-ins in the past in my house. It is a risk but I believe that our struggle is a terrain and the terrain is in this country and we need to work and make a change in the country.
Here is a video that follows Ndumie's work made by the Dutch NGO Hivos .