As South Africa commemorates Human Rights day, some groups who feel their rights have been undermined say it’s still unfair to deprive them of their rights. A gay rights activist says the rights of black homosexuals are still being ignored.
The activist who goes by the name Yonela Tyatyeka said she realized the dangers gay and lesbians face in the South African society after her older sister Ntsiki who was reported to be a lesbian was raped and killed in 2010.
Narrating how she felt after her sister’s death, Tyatyeka said it is especially difficult growing up in a township or informal settlement where prejudice is rife. She said she could not avoid being talked about in school. “People have different versions. They say Ntsiki was a bad person or she was killed by her boyfriend. Whereas we really know that Ntsiki was gay and she was open about it.
South Africa is known for its diverse and complex history with regards to the LGBT rights. The legal and social status of all homosexuals and transgender people has been influenced by a combination traditional South African mores, colonialism, and the lingering effects of apartheid and the human rights movement that contributed to its abolition.
Being the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, South Africa was the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalize same-sex marriage for black homosexuals. Despite that fact, LGBT in South Africa has continued to face diverse trials ranging from social stigma, homophobic violence (particularly corrective rape), and high rates of HIV/AIDS infection.
Talking about sexual violence and other violent behaviours, the country is said to still have a long way to go in tackling them. There has been several sexual violence that has been reported to the police with the perpetrators yet to be caught.
Radio host and author Wanda Bam said gender-based violence stems from a broken society caused by people don’t stand up for each other. Pointed out that she had been abused for 15 years by her former husband, before she left him.
According to Bam, abuse against women and children is often perpetuated by society’s reactions to the scourge. She added that although South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, many people are moving backwards when it comes to protecting each other’s rights.
“I am not covering for any man. I think we are sitting with hurting and broken men. I think they need healing, seriously. We sit with women who are paralyzed and they don’t stand up for what’s happening to them, especially in the Afrikaner environment as people would look at you, judge you and even say you were looking for it.”