Each week, breast more than 10 lesbians in the South African city of Cape Town are taken by men into a makeshift shack, medicine a back room, denture or dark street and violently raped with the goal of ‘turning them straight.’ Over 30 lesbians have been murdered in the country in the course of thousands of ‘corrective rapes’ over the last decade.
Last month, a tiny group of women in Cape Town started to strike back under the banner of Luleki Sizwe. A small Cape Town charity that works to rescue, support, feed and nurse to health survivors of ‘corrective rape’, Luleki Sizwe is led by community activist Ndumie Funda, who founded the group in 2007 after her fiancÃ©e was the a victim of ‘corrective rape’.
Ndumie and her volunteer supporters first sent a formal letter to South Africa’s Minister of Justice Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe, calling on him to declare ‘corrective rape’ a hate crime and work to find solutions to the ‘corrective rape’ epidemic.
“The South African government and the justice system is failing these victims of corrective rape by letting the perpetrators out on ridiculously low bail, and taking literally years to bring the court-cases to a conclusion,” read the petition to the minister. “In the meantime the victims have to live with seeing their rapists every day, being taunted and threatened by them, as are those who help the victims!”
What did Jeff Radebe, charged with leading the cause of justice in South Africa, do after receiving the message that tens of thousands of people all over the world had demanded he do something about ‘corrective rape’?
To date, the only communication from the minister’s office was a terse email from Tlali Tlali, the minister’s chief of staff, to Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org, saying that the minister finds it “wholly unnecessary for you to send so many individualized emails whose content is the same… You have made it virtually impossible for us to access other emails as doing so is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
“We provide supporters of campaigns hosted on Change.org with the ability to send direct emails to targets with their own individual email address, and do not censor these emails,” Ben replied. “We appreciate your understanding and assistance in obtaining a formal response to this matter, which is something I know will continue to grow in interest among people across the world in the coming weeks should we not receive a response from the Minister.”
We have not yet received a reply from the Minister Radebe’s office.
To sum up what has happened here: a tiny group of grassroots community activists in the townships of Cape Town have successfully used a Change.org petition to get tens of thousands of people all over the world to join the call for a South African minister to do something about a series of unbelievably heinous and unpunished crimes.
He has ignored them, not even instructing a staff member to pick up the phone and arrange a meeting.
Today the activists of Luleki Sizwe once again showed that they refuse to be ignored, and are pushing a new petition simply calling on Minister Radebe to meet with Luleki Sizwe founder Ndumie Funda.
Let’s show the South African government that we will continue to get thousands of signatures every time our support is needed, until the ‘corrective rape’ epidemic is finally taken seriously.
Winning this and similar campaigns depends on our ability to quickly call on thousands of supportive folks like you. After signing the petition below, please click here to help us win!
Photo credit: Luleki Sizwe