Akinola, Repudiate Anti-Gay Violence

March 25, 2009

“Corrective” Rape: Excuse for Male Violence

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From mothersfightingforothers.com

ActionAid, an international anti-poverty agency founded in 1972, recently issued a report on the use of rape to control women in South Africa, and specifically violence against Lesbians to “correct” their misbehaving ways.

The organization reports:

In South Africa, no woman is safe from violence. The country’s war against its women continues unabated, with an estimated 500,000 rapes, hundreds of murders and countless beatings inflicted every year. For every 25 men accused of rape in South Africa, 24 walk free.

This shameful record has resulted in an increasingly brutal and oppressive culture of male violence, in which women are forced to conform or suffer the consequences.

As part of this oppression, the country is now witnessing a backlash of crimes targeted specifically at lesbian women, who are perceived as representing a direct threat to a male-dominated society.

”Corrective” rape survivors interviewed by ActionAid for the report Hate Crimes: the rise of corrective rape in South Africa, said that verbal abuse from their attackers before and during the rape included them “teaching us a lesson” and “showing us how to be real women and what a real man tasted like.” The research was carried out in conjunction with ActionAid partners People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA), Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP).

Since when does being a “real man” involve violence against women? Is that what heterosexual men tell each other on their rampages?

Where I come from, being a real man means never hitting someone smaller or weaker than yourself.

Real men don’t hit women; there’s no glory in mopping the floor with someone who can’t fight back. If males have something to prove, let them fight each other.

The only men who hit women and children are males who are afraid of other men. Fear and masculinity are opposites. Courage is the highest attribute of a real man.

He doesn’t care if some women don’t want him. He doesn’t feel a need to bash people who aren’t doing him any harm.

ActionAid continues:

Support groups say that rape is fast becoming the most widespread hate crime targeted against gay women in townships across South Africa.

One lesbian and gay support group says it is dealing with 10 new cases of lesbian women being targeted for ‘corrective” rape every week in Cape Town alone.

Zanele Twala, Director of ActionAid South Africa, said: “So-called ‘corrective’ rape is yet another grotesque manifestation of violence against women, the most widespread human rights violation in the world today. These crimes continue unabated and with impunity, while governments simply turn a blind eye.”

Thirty one lesbian women have been reported murdered in homophobic attacks since 1998. But support groups stress that because hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are not recognised in the South African criminal justice system, the actual number of women killed is likely to be much higher.

The murderers are walking free. Of the 31 cases, only two have ever made it to the South African courts and there has been only one conviction.

Tsidi, a hate crime survivor from Cape Town said: “Here in South Africa you have judges sending women to jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed her baby, but men who gang rape women, who murder lesbians… they walk the streets as free men.”

South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, guaranteeing the rights of gay and lesbian people. However, the South African legal system has not caught up. Hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are not recognised by South African law and the courts refuse to recognise that it plays any part in these cases. The police are reluctant to investigate hate crimes against lesbian women and there is inadequate support for the survivors.

One lesbian woman said: “We get insults every day, beatings if we walk alone, you are constantly reminded that…you deserve to be raped, they yell, if I rape you then you will go straight, that you will buy skirts and start to cook because you will have learnt how to be a real woman.”

“Worldwide, it is utterly unacceptable that millions of women and girls live daily in fear of their lives. The international community have a duty to address violence against women as the most serious threat to security in the world today,” Ms. Twala said.

Obviously the problem of violent male domination and state-sponsored homophobic violence isn’t confined to the followers of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola. It isn’t confined to the Anglican Church or the continent of Africa. We find it sponsored by every major religion in every society in the world, West and East, North and South.

To a lesser extent we also find it condemned by every major religion in every society. But power = money, and to understand why we live in such an unjust world, follow the money.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should take swift steps to crack down on male violence against women and Gay people, including economic sanctions. Ms. Twala is right, such violence is the leading threat to family and personal security in the world.

Of course, if Obama and Clinton were to take such steps, the clamor among rich American businessmen would make eardrums rattle. “Now is not the time,” they’d say. “We need every job and dollar we can get in this economic recovery!”

Oh, but now is exactly the time to condition continued trade with other countries on progress in women’s rights. We’re still richer than any other nation, and we can afford to drive prices lower; it’s called bargaining.

“Steel-thighed” Hillary would be the perfect Secretary of State to carry this policy out. If Americans think she’s a tough broad, wait till she takes on a bunch of bushmen in primitive societies, backed by every woman on the planet.

Then she can come home, look every Fortune 500 CEO in the eye and say, “You’re next, buster.”

If she works it right, she doesn’t even have to be president to get her way. Michelle Obama can lead the cheering section—and then outdo her in style, beauty and popularity if she starts getting too big for her pantsuits.++

October 9, 2007

Human Rights Watch: Nigerian Corruption Endemic

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The Primate of All Nigeria

The Washington Post notes this report from Human Rights Watch about how Nigeria is governed:

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 9 — Human Rights Watch warned on Tuesday that wealthy and violent political godfathers have hijacked Nigeria’s eight-year-old democracy while enjoying almost total impunity for their misdeeds.

The group’s 123-page report portrays April’s disastrous and widely condemned national elections as symptomatic of a system in which political players compete mainly with rival gangs of heavily armed youths, who rape, kill and intimidate opponents. The winners of these battles then use the Nigerian government’s vast oil wealth to entrench their power.

“In violent and brazenly rigged polls, government officials have denied millions of Nigerians any real voice in selecting their political leaders,” the report says. “In place of democratic competition, struggles for political office have often been waged violently in the streets by gangs of thugs recruited by politicians to help them seize control of power.”

The report does not detail the Anglican Church’s involvement, so let me add a few facts which, if more widely known, ought to embarrass American “Anglicans” who have been quick to pledge allegiance to Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola because of his assiduously publicized anti-Gay campaign:

• The Nigerian government donates the land on which many Anglican churches are built, including Akinola’s own cathedral in Abuja. There is no such thing as separation of Church and state in Nigeria.

This is a much bigger danger to the Church and the Gospel than it is to the government. When the Church gets co-opted, injustice invariably results.

• The Nigerian presidency, by common consent, rotates between Christians and Muslims. Christian presidential candidates choose Muslim VP’s and vice-versa. The previous president was an Anglican; the current president is Muslim, and his vice-president is an Anglican. Among all the Christian denominations in Nigeria, only Anglican politicians win the top slots.

• Government officials attend every important Anglican event—a school here, a bishop there—arriving in their Mercedes and BMWs and mixing with the “in” crowd. Indeed, belonging to the Anglican Church is seen as a way to get ahead financially and politically.

• The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria—Akinola until recently, when he was defeated for re-election by his fellow Christians for being too close to the government—is an automatic member of the government’s National Security Council. Akinola tried to stack the deck for his re-election by rescheduling the vote for a date when his main Catholic rival was out of the country attending a Vatican event. Akinola’s fellow Christians saw through his manipulation and denied him even the loser’s automatic vice-presidency. He’s losing prestige at home, even as he continues to attract homophobes in America.

By the time this schism is done there’s going to be hell to pay. Akinola’s American backers have hitched their wagon to a mafioso in a Mercedes; can blood be far behind?

October 2, 2007

Kenyan Human Rights Chair Slams Anglican Bishops

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L. Muthoni Wanyeki, the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, is one African leader fearlessly doing her job. In an opinion column in The East African newspaper, she says this:

On July 7 this year, two black South African lesbians were executed in Soweto. It is believed that they were followed home after a party. They were removed from their car, taken to a field and gang-raped before being executed.

Their deaths were not isolated. Another woman, also known to be a lesbian, was killed in Cape Town around the same time. And, in line with the ignorant idea that lesbians can be “fixed,” over 10 women known to be lesbians were raped. An atmosphere of fear has been created.

That is South Africa. Closer to home, the Tanzanian Lesbian Association has had to help relocate two lesbians following the publication of a picture of them kissing under the banner: “Uchafu.”

Lawrence Mute, formerly a commissioner with the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, remarked last week, “Being blind, I know what being disadvantaged, being vulnerable, being discriminated against, is all about.” He was, on behalf of the KNHRC, one of the drafters of the so-called Yogyakarta Principles — an attempt to being together, in one document, the range of already agreed upon international and regional human rights standards that apply (or should apply) to ensure the equal treatment of the gay community (or communities).

Noting that the history of human rights is one of claim, contestation and confirmation, sexual rights are human rights — but remain abstract until those oppressed begin that arduous and long process of first staking claim.

That no less than one of the most powerful mainstream churches on the continent does not seem to understand this — or to even be willing to try to do so — is a cause for deep concern. Prejudice and stereotypes both cause and enable systemic discrimination. When they are “sanctioned” by those considered to be authorities, the logical outcome is the kind of hate crimes now being witnessed in South Africa.

LET US BE CLEAR ABOUT THIS. WE all reacted with horror to the kind of human-rights violations seen during the genocide in Rwanda. We all asked ourselves: How could family, friends, neighbours turn on each other in such a devastatingly vicious manner. What we all should remember is that all it takes is sanction from authorities of any kind — the state, religious organisations and so on. We are all capable of being genocidal. We just need to believe that we are “right” in being so.

What the African Anglican bishops have essentially said is that African citizens are “right” in their prejudices and stereotypes about African gay communities. It is thus the African Anglican hierarchy that should “repent.” If we do not stop and check ourselves, we can rest assured that the damage ultimately caused will not just be to the Anglican family worldwide. The damage will be to our own.

Kenyan Anglicans are some of the leaders in the current anti-Gay schism.

You can read the whole thing here.

It is nice to hear an African woman’s voice for a change in all this. Who better knows about rape as a weapon?

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