April 29, 2010

Corrective Rape - Brought to You by the Rape Capital of the World

In recent months, my academic research and clinical interest have focused on the ways in which women understand their multiple identities - elements of their life experience that include their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and geography as well as and in some cases multiple traumas and oppressions – all of which combine to tell their story.  When I saw this story and call to action on change.org about a 30-year-old South African, lesbian-identified woman, Millicent Gaika, who was a recent victim of "corrective rape," I couldn't help but think of how this woman is beginning to make sense of herself, her multiple identities, and now this trauma. 

For those of you unfamiliar (as I was) with the concept of "corrective rape," it is when a man or men "rape the gay" out of a woman to make her straight.  In South Africa this practice is of epidemic proportions.  Alex DiBranco writing for change.org reports that "520 women [report] being survivors of corrective rape in a year, and perhaps hundreds more unreported rapes estimated."

I  am bringing this to your attention and to my own for a couple of reasons.  I am thinking not only about the way that I as a social worker and the social work profession can best meet the needs of women with whom we work in this 21st century globalized society, but the way that we women can work together to raise consciousness and effect change.  I think the first most important thing is to raise conciousness and awareness.  How does hearing about "corrective rape" impact you? What feelings does it elicit? If we are not educated or even aware of atrocities around the world such as corrective rape, then how can we possibly take action to effect change and protect our global sisters as well as ourselves? 

Director Lovinsa Kavuma offers us an inside look into the lives of lesbian women in South Africa in a short documentary called Rape for Who I Am.

In addition to raising our own conciousness, we can take concrete steps and sign a petition on change.org here. Have you had experience working towards ending corrective rape? Do you have any thoughts on how the WCC can effect change? Let us know!

Some women have taken the issue of rape into their own hands and have developed the anit-rape condom - Rape-aXe.  This condom was developed to stop and prevent the occurance of rape.  Here is some more information from the Rape-aXe website:

A brief history
The Rape-aXe anti rape condom was developed by a South African woman, Sonnet Ehlers, after witnessing first hand the horrific aftermath of a sexual assault. She felt that something had to be done to stop this growing threat against women and started to work on the anti rape condom, the Rape-aXe. The first prototype was launched on 31 August 2005, at Kleinmond, Cape Province, South Africa.

What is it?
Rape-aXe is a revolutionary new product that aids in the prevention of rapes. This device can later be used to identify the attacker and aid in the apprehension of the perpetrator.

How does it work?
The Rape-aXe system consists of a latex sheath, which contains razor-sharp barbs. The device is worn in her vagina like a tampon. When the attacker attempts vaginal penetration the barbs attach themselves to the penis, causing great discomfort. The device must be surgically removed, which will result in the positive identification of the attacker and subsequent arrest.

Anything Else?
One of the major benefits of the Rape-aXe system is the fact that it helps in the prevention of the rape victim contracting an STD like HIV. An additional benefit of the anti rape condom is the fact that it helps in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies resulting from rape.

For more information, visit the Rape-aXe website and check out this article "Putting Teeth in the Fight Against Rape" by Amanda Bailly.

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