Unseen, Unheard: The Victims of Corrective Rape

From Stephen Fry’s Series ‘Out There’ available on BBC iplayer

Corrective Rape is a term coined in South Africa describing a hate crime where victims are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The consequence of the act, as seen by the perpetrator, is to ‘cure’ the victim of homosexuality or enforce conformity with gender stereotypes.

Stephen Fry’s ‘Out There’ series, follows the testament of a woman, who at aged 14 was raped by a male farmer, who intended by penetrating her, to correct her sexual preference for women. His aim by raping her, was that afterwards she would only want sex with men and no longer be attracted to the same sex.

Following his attack, she was left pregnant and after speaking of her experience with family members, was forced to have an abortion and later learned she was positive for HIV. She received no help or support for her trauma, and no legal action was taken against the perpetrator that had forced himself upon her.

Corrective Rape is an increasing global issue, with most reported accounts taking place in South Africa. Despite South Africa being the fifth country in the world to legalise same sex marriage; it would appear the laws of the government, and the laws being practiced on the streets are worlds apart.  South Africa has one of the world’s highest rate of sexual assault. 


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In 2008, Eudy Simelane was gang-raped and stabbed to death. Her body was then dumped in a stream in the Kwa Thema township, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Those who knew Eudy, including a soccer player training to be a referee for the 2010 FIFA world cup, states Eudy Simelane was targeted because of her sexual orientation.

Three years later, in 2011, Noxolo Nogwaza was raped and stabbed multiple times with glass shards. When her body was discovered her skull was shattered and her eyes gouged from their sockets. Earlier, on the evening of her death, she had been seen in a bar with a female friend.

These are only two of the many reported accounts from victims of corrective rape, and there are many more sufferers whose stories are untold, or ignored.


In an article from The Telegraph discussing homophobia in South Africa reported that:

Of the estimated 500,000 rapes that take place every year, only one in nine are reported. For every 25 men brought to trial for rape, 24 will walk free – a poignant reminder of the aggressive masculinity that colours the social and political landscape of South Africa.

Emily Kraven; policy and program manager at ActionAid South Africa, one of the first charity to document the use of corrective rape stated:

The notion that women do not need men for either economic support or sexual pleasure is one that is deeply threatening to entrenched patriarchal values.”

One of the victims the charity has supported spoke of her experience:

“They tell me that they will kill me, they will rape me and after raping me, I will become a girl,” she tells ActionAid. “I will become a straight girl.”


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Despite contradicting beliefs; sexuality is not something that can be turned on or off


These are stories where rape is being used as a method of conversion therapy We have gotten to a point where heteronormativity is a higher ideological value, that that of respect for one’s body or well-being. People are driven; out of fear and ignorance, to traumatise, violate and abuse victims into conforming to an idea of traditional gender stereotypes and roles.

These ideological pressures and outdated, uninformed perspectives of gender and sexuality; born from a patriarchal society that puts men before women; has led to it being ok to treat people this way. These are societies and cultures and beliefs that advocate heterosexuality is the only correct form of sexuality, and that marriage is only for the opposite sexes, and the only purpose of intimate relations is to reproduce offspring. 

Those performing corrective rape, have normalised and accepted the act as ok, under the belief it is another form of pill to swallow that will cure homosexuality. Beyond the fact we live in a world and a time where same sex relations and attraction is no longer considered a mental disease or abnormality; rape is rape, and under no circumstance is acceptable.


The victims of Corrective Rape are going unseen and unheard.


Encouraged by a failure of educations systems to encourage, teach and inform society of sexual orientation, gender identity and equal rights and an unsupportive criminal justice system failing to recognise corrective rape as a hate crime and as a  cruel and punishable act; these beliefs are left free for individuals to act upon and grow in trend and the number of attacks to rise. 


From an online article at: http://theglobalpanorama.com/the-shocking-practice-of-corrective-rape/

Until people’s attitudes are changed, and until legal systems recognise hate crimes against those deviating from gendered stereotypes as the atrocious tragedies that they are, milestones such as that of the legalisation of gay marriage in America will always be bittersweet for those left living in a nations where they may be raped, killed and tortured at any moment, simply for desiring a basic human right; freedom.






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