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The Triangle Project Responds to Anti-Corrective Rape Petitions

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The Triangle Project is a South African organisation that seeks to challenge homophobia and to eradicate discrimination against and within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community.  In their mission statement, they state their aim to educate, lobby and advocate against harmful stereotypes, attitudes and behaviours towards LGBTI people and to provide services, build confidence and strive for better understanding of the community.

Since the beginning of the year, several online petitions have been circulating the Internet, highlighting what was labelled the “corrective rape” of lesbian women in South Africa.  The Triangle Project was notably silent in response to the petitions and did not sign or endorse them.  Yesterday the Triangle Project issued a statement in which they condemned several aspects of the petitions and explained their reluctance to associate the organisation with these petitions.  The absence of survivors’ voices and testimonies in the petitions is noted and it is stated that “once again black women in Africa are being cast as voiceless victims, as voiceless faces.”  The false division between “corrective rape” and rape perpetrated against women in general is questioned, as is the call for rape to be declared a hate crime and a minimum sentence of 25 years imposed.  Specifically, the statement states that the petitions seem silent on other forms of violence experienced by lesbians, including harassment, assault and murder as well as violence targeted against transgendered persons, gay men and other marginalised groups.  Finally, the statement questions the inflated figures and statistics in the petitions and notes that there is no specific hate crime legislation in South Africa.  It is noted that “a context such as South Africa, where progressive legislation and extreme levels of gender violence co-exist, poses particular challenges and hard questions to LGBTI and gender activists.”

I must admit that when I first noticed the petitions in question, I did feel that they were specifically sensationalist but I wonder about this statement too.  I saw the petition on the Change.org website which has reported success in various petitions in the past.  It must be considered that anyone can post a petition about any issue about which they feel strongly.  Many of these people are not directors of organisations such as The Triangle Project and they are often neither educated or educators.  They are simply lay people like myself who want to make a difference.  Many websites for organisations such as The Triangle Project encourage people to volunteer, but beyond that few give concrete advice as to how one can make a real difference by spreading knowledge, adopting certain practices and beliefs and being an ambassador for social responsibility in general. 

I will say just one final thing though.  I went to university in Johannesburg, South Africa.  I will never forget sitting in the courtyard of our residence when a black man approached a black, lesbian woman and stated, in front of about fifty onlookers, that he would like to “rape the lezzie out of” her (on that occasion, several people came forward to assist her).  I’m not being specifically naive or privileged, nor am I trying to portray that woman as a voiceless victim, but the one thing these petitions did do in the past couple of months is to illustrate that these types of attitudes are alive and well in South Africa, years after I witnessed them.

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About Mandy Southgate

Mandy Southgate is a blogger, serial expat and eternal tourist living and working in London. Aside from writing at Blogcritics, she blogs about travel and London at Emm in London, entertainment and media at Addicted to Media and war crimes, genocide and social justice over at A Passion to Understand. Mandy has continued to write for Blogcritics under the new profile Mandy Southgate.
  • I was the target of Triangle Projects vitriolic and divisive public statement that you refer too – I have been accused of sensationalism and exploitation. I responded in private to their irresponsible and false allegations. Thank you for taking somewhat of a stand on behalf of the grassroots such as Luleki Sizwe and Ndumie Funda who will bring the issue of “corrective rape” to the SA Minister of Justice on Monday. Triangle project’s irresponsibility could have derailed a year of hard work by international bloggers and campaigners and SA voiceless victims who begged for the publicity – all because people like Triangle did very little to highlight corrective rape. In fact if you read the statement you will note that my assertions are backed up by comments which derogate from ‘corrective’ rape as being the issue. We must not lose sight of the fact that the international campaign in partnership with the women in the townships are the impetus behind Monday’s meetings and other organizations have now appeared to add to the issues. If the initial plan does not work out, it will be because ‘corrective rape’ issue has been hijacked by other agendas,