International anti-homophobia initiative Football v. Homophobia is calling on the South African government to recognize homophobic rape as a hate crime.
Last week, as part of the One Billion Rising movement to stop violence against women and girls, Football v. Homophobia produced and released an infographic detailing known cases of homophobic rape and gender-based violence.
Homophobic rape (also called ‘corrective’ rape or ‘curative’ rape) is a violent crime specifically targeting lesbians or women perceived to be lesbian. Soccer is still generally consider to be a man’s sport in South Africa; female soccer players transgress gender expectations.
Since 2001, at least 16 female footballers, including Eudy Simelane—a midfielder for Banyana Banyana, South Africa national women’s team—have been victims of homophobic rape in South Africa. Although most of these attacks go unreported for fear of reprisals, inaction, or further violence at the hands of the police and state, there are at least 40 documented cases in the same time period.
In 2011, Luleki Sizwe founder Ndumie Funda presented a petition containing over 170,000 names from signatories in 163 countries, demanding an end to ‘corrective’ rape. Funda and others met with ministers and a Hate Crimes Task Force was struck to handle the issue. Now, nearly two year later, homophobic rape is still not a hate crime under South African law.
Football v. Homophobia hopes to use the unifying power of soccer to raise awareness of the issue, and to direct people to the Amnesty International petition that demands an investigation in the 2011 rape and murder of LGBTI activist and soccer player Noxolo Nogwaza.
Football v. Homophobia runs events throughout the month of February. To learn more about the initiative and so see how you can participate in the rest of the FvH events, visit Football v. Homophobia.
Keph Senett is a member of the Football v. Homophobia communications team.
Keph Senett is a Canadian writer whose passions for travel and soccer have led her to play the beautiful game on four continents. When not writing about human rights, soccer/football, LGBT and gender issues and her own folly at kephsenett.com, Keph’s writing about travel over at A Bus Called Forward. Keph spends her free time trying to figure out how to qualify for a soccer squad in Asia, Australia or Antarctica.
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