“CORRECTIVE RAPE” – WHAT’S IN A NAME?

 

For the most part the term, ‘corrective rape’ has 
been taken up uncritically within the media and 
some “corrective rape” campaigning. Indeed, the 
concept appears to have seized the attention and 
imagination of the South African and International 
media and public. The term itself has become a 
central element in the sensationalist depiction of 
both the violence experienced by lesbians and of 
Africa. The internet, in particular has become host 
to some of the most blatant sensationalism. The 
most disconcerting of this entailed the public 
exposure of the bruised and battered face of a 
survivor, who was used as the ‘face of corrective 
rape’ without her knowledge or consent. This was 
also done without consideration for the negative 
impact that such exposure could have on her well-
being. Critical perspectives on the use of the term, 
‘corrective rape’ are almost entirely absent in public 
discourse. 
 
The claim that rape ‘cures’ or ‘corrects’ has and is 
being used by men to justify the rape of lesbian 
women. This is not in dispute. The notion that all a 
lesbian need is a good f___ to put her right is an old 
one, and is certainly not unique to South Africa. 
However, the naming of an act of violence on the 
basis of a rape myth is deeply disturbing and 
offensive. Even more absurd is the extent to which 
this term has been popularised. The term itself 
gives too much credence to the extremely violent 
notion that lesbians can and should be raped ‘right’. 
 
In addition, to name the rape and murder of Eudy 
Simelane and Noxolo Nogwaza as ‘corrective rape’ 
is, as argued in a press release by the South African 
Municipal Workers Union, simply inappropriatei. In 
these cases, ‘corrective rape’ acts as nothing more 
than a euphemism. The rape, murder and 
mutilation of lesbian women cannot be seen as part 
of the perpetrator’s strategy to ‘cure’ his victim. 
There is an even more frightening intent at work 
here - frightening, not because it is a new 
phenomenon or “scourge” unique to South Africa. It 
is frightening precisely because it is not new. It is 
frightening because it signifies the brutal persistence 
of patriarchy and misogyny. 
 
Rape is a form of gender violence that is rooted in 
patriarchal and heteronormative systems of control 
and power. Rape is a means of maintaining control 
and power over women and their bodies and of 
policing gender and sexuality norms. These norms 
 
Faulkner, S. /Sema, T. May 03, 2011) Corrective Rape Equals Murder. 
SAMWU Press Statement. Available at: 
http://www.samwu.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=881:corrective-rape-equals-murder&catid=98&Itemid=93 
 
 
Nathan, M. (March 14, 2011). South African Dept. of Justice Hosts 1st 
Meeting on the Corrective Rape of Lesbians at Parliament. Available at: 
http://lezgetreal.com/2011/03/south-african-dept-of-justice-hosts-1st-
meeting-on-the-corrective-rape-of-lesbians-at-parliament/ 
 

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"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King Jnr
Our Vision:
The development of a non-discriminatory society, where organisations such as Triangle Project are a choice and not a necessity
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The development of a non-discriminatory society, where organisations such as Triangle Project are a choice and not a necessity
Our Aims:
Educating, lobbying and advocating against harmful stereotypes, attitudes and behaviours towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people;