Corrective Rape Testimonies from the Continent

***Trigger Warning***

Today, Dec. 13, a decision is expected on whether the Ugandan Rolling Stone can continue to print anti-gay articles inciting violence against homosexuals. In October, I wrote about the Ugandan Rolling Stone, a newspaper that published the pictures, names and addresses of gays and lesbians in Uganda with the words “Hang Them” accompanying the photographs. As we await this decision, it’s really important to point out how the increasing incidences of violence against gay people in Africa include the grotesque practice of corrective rape, where women are raped, and in some cases, infected with HIV and/or made pregnant.

Two important stories that demonstrate the seriousness of this phenomenon are from survivors Sheila Hope Mugisha in Uganda and Millicent Gaika of South Africa. Starting with Sheila, she was one lesbian whose picture was included in the Rolling Stone coverage. Following that coverage her friends wanted to stone her. But this was one of the first of several attacks she had experienced. Via the Washington Post:

…she was 16, Mugisha said, a neighbor raped her after he saw that she was not interested in boys.

“He wanted to teach me how to play with boys,” Mugisha recalled.

She became pregnant and had an abortion. Her rapist also infected her with HIV, she said. “I nearly tried to kill myself,” said Mugisha, wiry with short-cropped hair and dressed in blue jeans, a red-checkered shirt and a baseball cap.

Millicent’s story is also similar. Via lezgetreal, consider her powerful testimony:

Her attacker acted like an animal who wanted to kill, strangling her with barbed wire; “I thought he was going to kill me; he was like an animal. And he kept saying: ‘I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you.” The attacker was known To Gaika, a neighbor.

“He started hitting me and I fought back. Then he started doing what he did to me. He pulled off my clothes and pushed me down on the bed. He did it more than once. He was holding me down, strangling me and pushing his hands hard on to my neck.” The attack ended only ended after neighbors finally heard her screams, broke down the assailant’s door and found Gaika naked from the waist down on a bed and bleeding. They then held the assailant until police arrived.

Millicent also considered suicide after this attack. Millicent’s testimony is especially important to raise in the context of the Post piece. South Africa is referred to as an exception among with seemingly progressive legislation. However, with recent reports revealing that 1 in 3 men in South Africa have committed rape, and other important indicators suggesting the contrary, these stories are important in revealing how homophobia can manifest into brutal violence. I certainly hope that Ugandan courts take a stand for justice today and rule against hate inciting articles.

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