“Corrective rape” is the barbaric practice where men rape lesbian women to “make them straight”. This heinous practice is alive and well in Jamaica but goes largely unreported.
Nevertheless, last year there were six reported cases, and this month two lesbians were raped within days of each other.
The first young lady was walking home when she was brutally set upon and gang-raped by a group of four men from her community.
The men had complained about and seemingly had had enough of her “butch” or manly attire and were also upset that she had all the good-looking women.
They therefore “cut her” so she can better “tek man”.
Two days later the second young lady, a known friend of the first, was driven away in a taxi, held at knife-point and brutally raped after being forced to perform oral sex on her assailant.
She was then dumped partially clothed and told that the next time her rapist would use a condom.
Both rapes were reported to the police. However, it is doubtful the women will follow through with the prosecutions as the stigma and discrimination faced by raped lesbians in Jamaica is much worse than regular rape victims: in the eyes of most Jamaicans, lesbians have dared to challenge the hetero-normative status quo and have therefore somehow caused their attacks.
As a people we should have a national revulsion to such often violent abuse of the rights of Jamaica’s lesbian and gay population. Instead, encouraged by our leaders and laws, many of us wear our homophobia like a badge of national pride.
Good to see that some are finally catching up with the correct terminologies and issues but this issue of corrective rape has been a sore point from late 2007 when several cases came to light especially during my tenure at Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, JFLAG the problem is it is not a JFLAG representative writing these letters but a paid consultant from AIDSFREEWORLD, why is JFLAG not able to speak on the issues definitively instead of having a quasi spokesperson from another entity?
These are the things that make sections of the community so cynical and wonder what are our advocates as they say they are doing really?
It has taken far too long for this to reach the lexicon of the organization and worse yet to properly engage and address women’s issues and lesbian issues and not leave them entirely to the affiliate WomenforWomen who are not funded or equipped to deal with matters effectively. Let us not forget that Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays was formed out of its parent Jamaica AIDS Support for Life to deal with advocacy issues that they were not equipped to deal with at the time as JASL focuses on HIV/AIDS interventions. The shifting or passing of direct responsibility to subgroups with volunteers is insufficient to address frontline and psycho-social needs of the victims in particular and the greater LGBT body politic. Both JASL and JFLAG to date have no resident Psychologist or Social Worker and have to outsource or refer to paid private practices in most instances if one is fortunate to get that in their case.
Peace and tolerance