Success! South African Minister Agrees to Meet ‘Corrective Rape’ Activists

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We got it!

The South African Minister of Justice’s staff has informed Change.org that the Minister will, see without question, meet with the anti-corrective activists of Luleki Sizwe!

For over two months, activists all over the world have joined together to support Luleki Sizwe, a tiny South African charity fighting ‘corrective rape, the increasingly common crime in which men rape lesbian women to ‘turn’ them straight or ‘cure’ them of their sexual orientation.

Their first demand? That South Africa’s Minister of Justice Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe acknowledge corrective rape, meet with Luleki Sizwe leaders and begin working to find solutions to the ‘corrective rape’ epidemic.

Let’s be honest: none of us thought that after tens of thousands of people from more than 150 countries on earth called on the Minister to meet with activists leading the anti-corrective rape fight, it would take a man charged with leading the cause of justice in South Africa two months to agree to a meeting.

But that didn’t stop anyone. Thousands of supportersĀ  – including Change.org Women’s Rights, Gay Rights and Human Rights activists – worked to pile on the pressure, with some 30,000 of us sharing the petition to the minister with friends on social networks. Soon, some 140,000 people from 163 countries had signed it, literally flooding the email inboxes of his senior staff. Then the campaign started getting traction in South African media outlets, from the anti-Apartheid daily The Sowetan, the 2.5 million readership CityPress and Cape Town’s biggest paper Cape Argus to South Africa’s most popular commercial radio station and a live TV interview on South Africa’s national broadcaster SABC for Ndumie Funda, founder of the anti-‘corrective rape’ campaign. Even foreign media, including the Huffington Post, have covered the campaign (see the full list of media coverage of the campaign here).

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As tens of millions of people all over the world were exposed to the anti-corrective rape campaign and the minister’s inaction, he gave in. First, he told a TV interviewer that he is “Very deeply concerned” about corrective rape, and sees it as a violation of human rights and of the “human dignity of women.”

“There is a process in hand now in order to deal with this particular issue”, he said, adding that he would be prepared to contact the South African Law Reform Commission “in order to look at this issue much further.”

Now, Minister Radebe’s Chief of Staff Tlali Tlali has responded our letters and told Change.org that a meeting with Luleki Sizwe activists is guaranteed.

“The minister cannot lie and say that there will be a meeting when there will not be one,” he told Change.org, when asked if the minister would follow up on his interview and grant a meeting. “We understand that it’s a good idea, we just need everyone to be available. It is a matter that involves stakeholders, prosecutors and police so we want to make sure everyone is at the table. we are also making contact with the NPA to have them at the meeting.”

Once again, the activists of Luleki Sizwe showed that they refuse to be ignored.

“The promise of a meeting is great,” Billi Du Preez, a Cape Town based volunteer with Luleki Sizwe told Change.org. “But quite frankly, after being ignored for so long, I will not believe it until Ndumie is sitting in the meeting.”

“The meeting is just the beginning,” Billi continued. “Then we need the Justice department and the South African Police and other stakeholders to listen to what we have to say, and the ideas we have, to work with us towards a final solution to end ‘Corrective Rape.'”

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Photo credit: Luleki Sizwe