Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lesbians Raped, Tortured and Murdered

Last Sunday, two South African lesbians were brutally raped, tortured and murdered in Medowlands, Soweto. The women were Sizakele Sigasa, a longtime activist and outreach worker with Postive Women's Network (PWN) and her friend Salome Masooa. Sizekele was found with her hands tied behind her back, pants at her ankles, and bullet three bullet holes in her head, in addition to three in her collarbone.

The murders come on the heels of recen thigh profile murders and tortures in the region.

From Black Looks:
Their rape and murders are part of a continuing and growing epidemic of hate crimes against lesbians. In June, Simangele Nhlapho , a member of a support group for women living with HIV run by PWN, was, along with her two year old daughter, raped and murdered. Her daughter’s legs were also broken. In April this year, 16 year-old Madoe Mafubedu, was raped and repeatedly stabbed until she died. There have been no arrests for any of these crimes and other sexual assault cases, all documented, against lesbians particularly Black lesbians in the townships. These hate crimes are part of the endemic misogyny and homophobia as well as the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS in South Africa that is destroying lives. Women comprise 58% of those living with HIV. The cause are many and complex….

gender discrimination often leaves them unable to negotiate condom use or disclose their status to their families and partners (who are often infected as well). Many women today are still afraid to be tested, and women receiving antiretroviral treatment have been known to hide their medicines under their beds for fear of bearing the brunt of physical abuse and alienation. Every six hours in South Africa a woman is killed by a male partner; every 26 minutes a woman is raped.

The Joint Working Group, a collection of South African gay and lesbian community groups, is publicly condemning the murders and calling to hold the culprits and community accountable for allowing such violence.

Even though South Africa remains the only African nation to constitutionally recognize gay and lesbian rights, these recent murders are glaring examples of just how deeply homophobia and colonization are fused in communities of color throughout the world. A story published by Human Rights Watch last year briefly skimmed over the connection between the culture of fear and violent reactions to folks who live outside of "cultural norms".

If you'd like to send condolences to Sigasa and Misooa's family and friends, send to:
MEMORIAL SERVICE: Thursday 12 July 2007, 12h00-15h00 (Epelegeng Centre)
FUNERAL: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 12h00 (Meadowlands Community Centre)
(Contact: Busi Kheswa, Gay and Lesbian Memory In Action, 011-717/4239/1963
Prudence Mabele, Positive Womens Network, 078 383 9529

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