I will today be writing to Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, requesting that she address Parliament as a matter of urgency on her plan to stem the rising tide of brutal homophobic attacks and murders and the use of 'corrective' rape to punish women for their sexual orientation.
Lesbians continue to be threatened and victimised by men who believe they can 'cure' them by raping them.
Nineteen-year-old Sihle Sikoji from Nyanga was brutally stabbed to death over the weekend because she was a lesbian.
Our heart goes out to Ms Sikoji and her friends and family. No human being should ever be victimised on the basis of their sexuality.
This is not an isolated case. Towards the end of October, six lesbians were attacked and beaten by a man at a petrol station in Gugulethu.
There is an urgent need for educational programmes and awareness campaigns to address the attitudes and biases that lead to these abhorrent crimes, to provide support to individuals and communities affected by them, and to empower people to stand together and demand change to a system that is failing them.
Hate crimes such as corrective rape are not recognised in this country and there is no legislation in place to guide how such crimes should be handled. Minister Xingwana seems more occupied with enforcing her latest Woman Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, which seeks to push for 50/50 gender representation across all sectors and will give the Minister unfettered power to enforce fines and penalties for failure to comply.
The Minister would arguably be serving women better if she were to first prioritise their safety. She needs to be at the forefront of promoting, facilitating and coordinating an anti-corrective rape campaign to secure the human rights, dignity and safety of the most vulnerable citizens she is mandated to protect.
Helen Lamoela, Shadow Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities