‘Corrective’ Rape

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2012 National LGBT Conference
27 July 2012

Conference notes the positive steps and campaigns taken by UNISON’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self organised group (SOG) to tackle violence against women both within the United Kingdom (UK) and as part of our International agenda. It is the right of all women regardless of their race, colour, religious belief, sexual orientation or gender identity to have the right to live without fear.

In countries across the world, including the UK, ‘corrective’ rape still takes place, where women are raped as a way of punishing and ‘curing’. The common intended consequence of the rape, as seen by many perpetrators, is to correct their sexual orientation, to turn them straight, or to make them ‘act’ more like their gender. The term was coined in South Africa after well-known cases of corrective rapes of lesbians.

Much of the media focus has been on South Africa, where there are an estimated 500,000 rapes are carried out every year. It is estimated that almost half of all South African women will be raped during their lifetime, and for every 25 men brought to trial for rape in South Africa, 24 walk free. These acts of savage violence against black lesbians is part of this epidemic of violence against women. Women who choose not to identify as heterosexual or perceived as being lesbian, bisexual or transgender are being victimised for daring to step outside the boundaries of what their families, communities and wider society prescribe for them. However this practise is not limited to South Africa. Although some countries have laws protecting LGBT people, corrective rape is often overlooked. Lesbians, or perceived lesbians are not the political priority. Moreover, they tend to be invisible when it comes to campaigns on violence against women, lesbians are either left out or included only in a footnote or in passing in the terms sexual orientation or same-sex relationships or sexual minorities. South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, yet still corrective rape is common place within in the LGBT community.

Conference therefore calls upon the National LGBT Committee, to work with other appropriate organisations such as End Violence Against Women Coalition, to:

1)Continue to campaign and raise awareness of this issue utilising the media links UNISON has, including the national press, twitter, facebook, U magazine, Out in UNISON, E-focus and bulletins;

2)Work with UNISON Labour Link and LGBT Labour to lobby the UK government to ensure that their strategy on ending violence against women includes measures to address ‘corrective’ rape at an international level, lobby MEP’s and use ILGA’s connections worldwide;

3)Work with UNISON’s International Committee to ensure that violence against women in all its manifestations is raised in the international arena and recognised as a human rights violation;

4)Liaise with our sister unions in South Africa to support them in action to challenge the cultural system which allows violence against women and ‘corrective’ rape to take place unpunished.