4/5/10-by Melanie Nathan and Paula Brooks
This is the face of South African lesbian who was beaten and raped for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”.
According to the Cape Argus, Millicent Gaika of Gugulethu Township alleged her attacker “acted like an animal who wanted to kill” and said “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.’”
Gaika said the assault began after she and some friends were walking home after spending the evening at another friend’s residence. As she approached her home, they met her alleged attacker and he asked Gaika for a cigarette. Gaika then said she gave him one and stayed to smoke with him while her friends walked on. A few minutes later, the man refused to pass the cigarette to Gaika and walked into his room.
When Gaika attempted to recover her cigarette, the man locked the door and it was then he began raping her.
Said Gaika, “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.”
Ms. Gaika also said her alleged attacker had never objected to her sexuality before. “He was very nice to me – I’d known him for years.”
The attack on Gaika continued for nearly 5 hours, and 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.
A Gugulethu police spokesman said Gaika’s attacker has been arrested and will remain in custody until his court appearance on Tuesday. Gugulethu is located about 10 miles north of Capetown.
According to a report by international group ActionAid, 10 new cases of lesbians being raped are reported every week in Cape Town alone and this attack was not the first one on Gaika.
These rapes are going largely unrecognized by the state and unpunished by the legal system.
ActionAid has called on South Africa’s criminal justice system to recognize these corrective rapes, as a separate crime category. It argues this will force police to take action over the rising violence and ensure the resources and support is provided to those trying to bring perpetrators to justice.
Ndumi Funda, the founder and director of Lulekisiswe Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women’s Project in Nyanga, was at Gaika’s house yesterday and said she was “deeply hurt and traumatized”.
“This needs to be stopped. We know of so many that this happens to and nothing is done about it. How many more young lesbian women must die?”
When LGR received these pictures from South Africa today we had to make a tough call. Publishing these pictures was a tough decision because they are so awful; however we must force ourselves to look at these and then demand action!!!!!
In South Africa one of out 4 people are HIV positive or have aids, and many lesbians have contracted HIV/AIDS because of these rapes and have died.
A statement released by South Africa’s national prosecuting authority said: “While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project.”
We demand that South African President Zuma change that and do something!
UPDATED 4-6-10 Melanie Nathan
Wynberg Magistate’s Court on Tuesday. A handful of demonstrators gathered outside the court calling for the alleged attacker not to be granted bail. The victim’s cousin said the incident has shocked the Gaika family. She told Eyewitness News she found it difficult to comprehend why her cousin was raped as a result of her sexual preference. It is alleged the 40-year-old male accused strangled Gaika with a wire and brutally beat her before raping her.