A woman's place is in the home.
“They called me a bloody lesbian and raped me.”
I was only 19 when I was raped. I like partying and I know that many boys are provoked by us lesbians. They say we steal their girls. Sometimes they threaten us. On this occasion, three boys grabbed me outside the tavern and pulled me down in a grassy field. I tried to get away but they beat me and kicked me. I couldn’t defend myself. They called me “bloody lesbian” and raped me. I just lay there. It was terrible.
My family was asleep when I got home. I crept into my room and washed myself over and over again. I had some bruises but nobody asked about them. Until you came here I’d only ever told one person about the rape, my friend Karate, who’s also lesbian. There didn’t seem to be any point in reporting it to the police. I didn’t know the boys, I wouldn’t really be able to describe them and I know the police don’t care about us.
There didn’t seem to be any point in reporting it to the police.
I was scared for a year after it happened. I hardly went out in the evenings. My family thought that was a good thing: “You’re beginning to behave like a good girl at last”. My mother knows I’m a lesbian but she doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like me much anyway. No-one in my family likes me, well, apart from my nephew.
Last year I was attacked again, by three boys outside the Zodwa taverna. They followed me when I was going home, and shouted “Bitch! Stop pretending you’re a boy. Start behaving like a girl!” They pulled my jumper off but I broke free and ran. I got away that time, but I’m scared again now. I think they know where I live. I met one of them on the street the other day. It was daylight but he said he knew what he would do with me if we met when it was dark. That scares me.
My dream is to be able to live with my girlfriend, in our own house.
I haven’t done anything to hurt him. I don’t know why they’re so threatened by the fact that we girls love each other. I’m unemployed and I live with my mother. I’ve applied for lots of jobs but I can’t get one. It’s hard for many people but it’s even harder when you’re lesbian. Just wearing long trousers can be enough.
My dream is to be able to live with my girlfriend, in our own house, and have a normal job. Maybe work as a cleaner at the hospital. Earn some money. It doesn’t have to be a lot. I don’t dream about having an exciting life or a lot of money. But I wish I didn’t have to be afraid.
Maternal deaths: 236 deaths per l00,000 births
Number of children/woman: 2.3 (2011)
Abortion legislation: Right to abortion during the first three months of pregnancy depending entirely on the wishes of the woman. Thereafter up to the sixth month of pregnancy if there are special reasons, such as the health of the woman or an abnormality of the foetus. (2007)
Law against rape within marriage: Yes
Violence against women in close relationships: in 2010 almost 68,000 cases of sexual harassment were reported in a six-month period, most of them rape. It is claimed that almost 28 per cent of the male population have raped a woman or girl. 40 per cent of South African women stated in a report published by the WHO that their first sexual experience took place without their consent.