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Download the full report in Xhosa. Download the full report in Zulu. Download the full report in Sesotho. Biological Sex: The biological classification of bodies as female or male, based on such factors as external sex organs, internal sexual and reproductive organs, hormones, and chromosomes. Bisexual: The sexual orientation of a person who is sexually and romantically attracted to both women and men. Butch: Masculine gender expression; a popular term within lesbian and transgender communities to describe lesbians whose gender expression is masculine. Femme: Feminine gender expression; a popular term within lesbian and transgender communities to describe lesbians and bisexual women whose gender expression is feminine.
Gay: A synonym for homosexual in many parts of the world; in this report, used specifically to refer to the sexual orientation of a man whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is towards other men. Gender-based Violence: Violence directed against a person on Black bisexual females basis of gender or sex.
Gender-based violence can include sexual violence, domestic violence, psychological abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, harmful traditional practices, and discriminatory practices based on gender. The term originally described violence against women but is now widely understood to include violence targeting women, transgender persons, and men because of how they experience and express their genders and sexualities.
Heterosexual: A person whose primary sexual and romantic attraction, or sexual orientation, is toward people of the other sex. Homophobia: Fear and contempt of homosexuals, usually based on negative stereotypes of homosexuality.
Homosexual: The sexual orientation of a person whose primary sexual and romantic attractions are toward people of the same sex. Lesbian: The sexual orientation of a woman whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is toward other women. LGBT: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender; an inclusive term for groups and identities sometimes also grouped as "sexual minorities.
In this report, instances of passing include female-born people being identified as male-born because of their gender expression, and instances in which lesbian-identified people are read as heterosexual, also usually because of their gender expression. The term describes whether a person is attracted primarily to people of the same or other sex, or to both. A transgender person usually adopts or would prefer to adopt a gender expression in consonance with their preferred gender, but may or Black bisexual females not desire to permanently alter their bodily characteristics in order to conform to their preferred gender.
Transgender man: A female-born person who identifies as male and often expresses his preferred gender through dress and mannerisms. Transphobia: Fear and contempt of transgender and transsexual persons, usually based on negative stereotypes about transgenderism and transsexuality. At the time, demands of equality and non-discrimination by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGBT and sexual rights activists resonated with the political claims of other constituencies and groups.
The constitution also mandated the creation of six state institutions to support constitutional democracy, including the Commission for Gender Equality and the South African Human Rights Commission. While these are ificant advances, lesbians, gay men, and transgender people in South Africa continue to face hostility and violence. Social attitudes lag: recent social surveys demonstrate a wide gap between the ideals of the constitution and public attitudes toward such individuals. Negative public attitudes towards homosexuality go hand in hand with a broader pattern of discrimination, violence, hatred, and extreme prejudice against people known or assumed to be lesbian, gay, and transgender, or those who violate gender and sexual norms in appearance or conduct such as women playing soccer, dressing in a masculine manner, and refusing to date men.
This report documents discrimination and abuse against black lesbians, transgender men, and individuals who, while born female, do not conform to feminine gender norms and expectations. These individuals and groups experience discrimination, harassment, and violence at Black bisexual females hands of private individuals and sometimes state agents.
They may be thrown out of home; ridiculed and abused at school; harassed, insulted, and beaten on the streets, in church, and at work; and threatened by neighbors and strangers. The abuse they face may be verbal, physical, or sexual, and may even result in murder. The economic and social position of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people in South Africa has a ificant impact on their experience.
Those who are able to afford a middle-class lifestyle may not experience the same degree of prejudice and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But for those who are socially and economically vulnerable, the picture is often grim. Most of the respondents in this report are working-class lesbians, transgender men, and gender non-conforming people, many of whom have experienced abuse, threats, violence, and discrimination throughout their lives, and have few resources for mitigating their vulnerability.
Many of the people we interviewed for this report told us that rigid social and cultural norms for appropriate feminine and masculine behavior resulted in them living a life of fear and self-policing, sometimes impeding their ability to finish school or get and keep a job, and exposing them to rejection and ridicule in public spaces and at home. Most crimes committed against them go unreported.
As is the case with sexual abuse in the broader population, the fear and stigma attached to sexual assault makes it probable that such crimes are particularly underreported. The few who do report abuse and violence often face hostility, and discrimination from police and, sometimes, from other service providers. Rather, it aims to understand abuse and gender-based violence in a broader context of discrimination and disadvantage. Next, the report documents verbal, physical, and sexual threats, abuse, and violence faced by lesbians, transgender men, and gender non-conforming people. The report documents the climate of fear and impunity within which lesbians and transgender men attempt to negotiate their safety, sometimes even when performing routine tasks such as buying bread at the corner shop.
It also highlights some of the strategies they employ to avoid being attacked. The following section examines police inaction and unwillingness to provide services to lesbians and transgender men and how this contributes to their vulnerability. The section also looks at the lack of faith among lesbians and transgender men in the police, from whom many fear secondary victimization rather than protection.
Such concerns are not without justification; in several instances, police themselves have perpetrated abuse and violence. Legislative measures prohibit discrimination in workplaces and schools but, as this report shows, such laws are still implemented inconsistently.
South Africa already has in place many laws and policies to address sexual violence and discrimination; what is sorely lacking is effective implementation of those provisions. It is incumbent upon the South African government to take immediate steps to honor its promise of equality, non-discrimination, and a life of dignity for lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transgender people; failing to do so betrays the constitution, imperiling the rights of all South Africans.
Inwhen she was 13, she realized she was a lesbian. An older male cousin also stayed in the same house. Boipelo would refuse but faced constant scrutiny and criticism from him. One day, when Boipelo and her younger sisters were alone at home with the cousin, he raped her repeatedly. We were now supposed to get along. InBoipelo, now 20, used to spend time with her soccer coach, who knew that she was a lesbian. The next morning the coach took her back to her uncle, complained that she was not responding to him sexually, and took back the lobola.
Boipelo became pregnant and had in Boipelo registered a rape case against the pastor at the local police station. Boipelo dropped the case; she was again unable to finish school due to poor health. Boipelo is now 26, identifies as a lesbian, and has two small children. She receives a small government grant for her children. Her volunteer work earns Boipelo some respect in the community, but she can barely make ends meet, has still not finished school, and faces harassment because of her gender expression and sexual orientation.
This report is based on research conducted by Human Rights Watch in South Africa Black bisexual females February and Augustfollow-up conversations through October with activists and individuals concerning specific cases, and research on the experiences of lesbians, bisexual women, transgender men, and other female-born gender non-conforming people experiencing same-sex attraction. Two researchers conducted interviews with self-identified lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender men, and held three focus group discussions in different provinces: the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo.
The interviews were organized with the help of domestic advocacy groups mentioned in the acknowledgments at the end of this report. We also conducted interviews with police personnel at Khayelitsha police station in the Western Cape, Katlehong police station in Gauteng, and Thohoyandou police station in Limpopo. We did not receive a response to our repeated requests for a meeting with representatives of the Department of Police. We requested a Black bisexual females with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in July but did not receive a response that year.
In Maywe again requested a meeting with them and received a positive response from them in Septemberwhen the report was already in review. We were unable to meet officials of the department then due to conflicting schedules and were promised a written response to our questions in October We were awaiting the response at the time of going to press.
This report documents the experiences of self-identified lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender men who live in townships close to large cities Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg as well as those living in and around smaller towns and rural and peri-urban areas the participants in Lusikisiki, the Eastern Cape; Thohoyandou and Tzaneen, Limpopo; and Ermelo, Mpumalanga.
A small lived in cities—Johannesburg, East London, Durban, Nelspruit renamed Mbombelaand Cape Town—at the time they experienced violence, although even in these cases, the incidents of violence often took place in townships they were visiting. The of self-identifying bisexual women was small, though their insights indicate a need for greater research with this population.
Experiences of violence against gay men and transgender women were deliberately not included in this research in order to maintain a focus on lesbians and transgender men, violence against whom is widely acknowledged though not adequately documented. We were unable to visit the North West, Free State, and the Northern Cape provinces due to our lack of contact with lesbians and transgender men in these provinces.
We also conducted desk research on violence in South Africa, including gender-based violence. The scarcity of LGBT groups organizing in rural areas restricted our access to these places ificantly; therefore, most interviews were conducted in and around towns and cities. However, several interviewees spoke of their experiences in rural areas and villages, indicating the need for further research into issues of sexual orientation and gender expression in rural Black bisexual females.
Interviewees primarily came from economically marginalized backgrounds, with only a small percentage having jobs and being economically self-sufficient. Interviews were conducted in English, isiXhosa, and isiZulu, with interpretation provided by local activists and Human Rights Watch staff. All the interviews were conducted in private settings after we had explained to the interviewees the purpose and methodology of the research, gained their consent, and assured them of anonymity.
We provided no incentives to interviewees beyond covering meals, transport, and other costs incurred in conducting the interviews, such as room rental. We took care to prevent re-traumatization of interviewees by working closely with local organizations capable of providing counseling and other support services, if required, and providing interviewees with the names and phone s of trained counselors and service organizations when appropriate. This group was consulted at various stages of the research, and has provided guidance on research methodology, assisted with accessing interviewees and archival material, and provided input on the draft report.
Members of this group continue to be involved in ongoing advocacy and in developing further materials from research findings. The list of organizations and their representatives who took part in the reference group is mentioned in the acknowledgments at the end of this report. The South African constitution enshrines a Bill of Rights, which includes in Black bisexual females 9 a guarantee of equality and a prohibition on discrimination on many enumerated grounds including gender, sex, and sexual orientation.
In addition to this constitutional protection, a range of Black bisexual females legislative and policy reforms in South Africa have sought to remove discriminatory laws and ensure equality to lesbian and gay individuals. Under the Labour Relations Act of the dismissal of any employee on any of the grounds contained in the equality clause constitutes unfair dismissal; the Employment Equity Act of includes sexual orientation among protected from discrimination. The Rental Housing Act of also bars discrimination on all the grounds contained in the equality clause and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of further commits the government to promoting equality on the grounds mentioned in the equality clause.
Changes in legislation followed a series of legal challenges. For instance, in Februaryin Langemaat v. Minister of Safety and Security and Two Others, the Pretoria High Court ruled that the Police Medical Aid Scheme had unfairly discriminated against the plaintiff, a member of the South African Police Service, by refusing to register her same-sex partner as her dependent.
The legal challenges that brought about legislative changes often went all the way to the Constitutional Court. Minister of Home Affairs and Othersthe Constitutional Court declared section 25 5 of the Aliens Control Act of unconstitutional because it did not extend to lesbians and gay men and their same-sex partners who were non-South African subjects the same benefits as enjoyed by non-South African spouses of South African citizens and permanent residents.
The Minister for Welfare and Population Development and Othersthe Constitutional Court affirmed the decision of the Pretoria High Court which deemed unconstitutional those provisions of the Child Care Act Black bisexual females and the Guardianship Act of that restricted t adoption of children to married couples.
In Novemberresponding to an application brought by a lesbian couple, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that same-sex couples must be included in the common law definition of marriage and, in Decemberthe Constitutional Court confirmed the unconstitutionality of the existing marriage law and further declared that an inferior or marginal status granted to people in same-sex relationships would also be unconstitutional.
In the past 15 years these and other legal challenges have removed almost all legal provisions restricting the rights of lesbian and gay persons in South Africa. Fifteen years since adopting one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, however, the level of violence and discrimination against lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transgender people shows that the promise of equality remains elusive.
Over the past decade, activists in South Africa have recorded and analyzed dozens of incidents of sexual and physical violence against lesbians and transgender men, including rape and murder; a vast majority of these instances of abuse are directed against black lesbians and transgender men. The issue came to a head in the mid-to-late s, when several incidents of physical and sexual assault and murder based on sexual orientation and gender expression occurred in close succession.
Between April and July alone, there were three separate instances of sexual assault and murder of known lesbians; at least eight separate instances of violence against lesbians were recorded inof which three were cases of sexual assault and murder.
These cases, happening in rapid succession, established the targeting of lesbians as a specific problem within the LGBT community. The spate of attacks indicated increasing levels of violence or increased reporting, or both, and heightened the pressure on local activists to address the problem. Zoliswa Nkonyana was beaten and killed by a gang of about twenty young men in February Nine men were charged, and a verdict of guilty was handed against four of them in October In the former chair of the South African Human Rights Commission, Jody Kollapen, traced violence directed against lesbians to two factors: one, institutionalized prejudice deriving from the historical separation of people into with differential values; and two, the widespread problem of violence within South African society.
South Africa has Black bisexual females the highest rates of violence of all kinds in the world. About 2, cases of serious crime were recorded in ; 30 percent of these were crimes of assault involving grievous bodily harm. Academics and activists offer several historical explanations for the current state of affairs, including disruption of families; mass migration of male laborers to urban centers without female partners; brutal working conditions; apartheid policies that actively encouraged violent crime in townships and deliberately left these areas un-policed; institutionalized racism and segregation; and the legitimization of the use of firearms that began during colonial rule and continued during the apartheid era.
In the post-apartheid period, rampant violence and continued disintegration of the social fabric point to high levels of socio-economic inequality, Black bisexual females rates of unemployment, disenfranchisement, and loss of traditional sources of power;  lack of quality education and adequate economic opportunities; the devastating effect of HIV and AIDS;  and the uneven functioning of state institutions. Nearly half the respondents in a survey of 2, male City Council workers in Cape Town claimed they had physically beaten their domestic partner at least once.
The figures would arguably be higher among unemployed men. Violence against lesbians, transgender men, and gender non-conforming people occurs within the context of an epidemic of gender-based violence in South Africa. There have been ificant legislative, policy, and procedural reforms over the past several years intended to ensure greater access to justice to survivors of gender-based violence. In South Africa became a party to the international Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and was one of the governments that ed up to the Beijing Platform of Action at the Fourth World Conference on Women, including in it pledges to eliminate sexual violence.
At the time of writing, there were, at best, six such courts still in operation. The department also established one-stop care centers for survivors of sexual assault that allowed a survivor to receive medical help and counseling as well as report the incident to the police, all at one facility. The Sexual Offences Act expanded the definition of rape, making it a gender-neutral offence and stipulating, among other changes, that the survivor of the sexual offence need not prove absence of consent.
Given the range of laws and policies in place, the problem of widespread gender-based violence in South Africa is to a ificant extent due to inadequate implementation and, often, the absence of political will to give substance to the rights that exist on paper. Among the countries for which statistics are available, South Africa has among the highest rates of reported sexual violence against women in Black bisexual females country not at war.
Some estimates predict that one woman in three in South Africa can expect to be raped at least once in her lifetime, and one in four will face physical assault by her domestic partner. Research conducted by the Medical Research Council MRC in estimated that at the time 88 percent of rape cases were not reported to the police or other authorities, and, therefore, the actual of sexual offenses committed in any one year is around nine times higher than the reported.
The reasons are the same as those that lesbians and transgender men gave to Human Rights Watch for not reporting violence and abuse. Several national and regional studies have sought to establish the scope of sexual violence in the country. A Cape Town study from found that 40 percent of the women surveyed had experienced at least one instance of sexual assault  ; 45 percent of the girls and women aged 14 to 24 in another study described their first sexual experience as having involved coercion, trickery, force, or rape  ; over a quarter of the men in an MRC survey conducted in admitted to having raped a woman or girl, and almost half of the rapists had raped more than once, with about quarter of them having raped two or three women, about 7 percent having raped six-to women, and over 7 Black bisexual females admitting to having raped more than 10 women and girls.Black bisexual females
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Sex with bisexual men among black female students at historically black colleges and universities