Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word.
The other day someone was asking me about all the different ways we describe rape and why is it necessary. “Corrective Rape” was one of the terms brought up. What is it and how is it different from “Rape”. Really what the person was asking is that why is some rape considered a hate crime and some is, well, just rape?
As defined by E. Bartle in Lesbians and Hate Crimes – Corrective rape is a hate crime in which people are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It is the use of rape against people who do not conform to perceived social norms of sexuality and gender roles. They goal is to punish perceived abnormal behavior and reinforce the societal norms of heterosexuality and defined gender roles. The common intended consequence of the rape, as seen by the perpetrator, is to turn the person heterosexual or to enforce conformity with rigid gender stereotypes.
While this practice was first identified and termed in South Africa, it can happen and does happen in any community. And while much of the literature talks about corrective rape a happening in other countries, do not kid yourself that it does not happen in the United States, it does. All it takes is an atmosphere supportive of hate crimes against gay men and lesbians to contribute to the practice of corrective rape. A study in 2000,as reported by The Human Rights Watch, suggested this “atmosphere” of acceptance includes the visibility of lesbians within a community, a reaction of indifference to hate crimes by the community, a strong belief in gendered behavior for males and females, and isolated locations.
Corrective rape and other accompanying acts of violence can result in physical and psychological trauma, mutilation, HIV infection, unwanted pregnancy, and may contribute to suicide. Corrective rape is a major contributor to HIV infection in South African lesbians.
Corrective rape is not limited to people under the traditional LGBTQ umbrella. Asexual activist and blogger Julie Decker has observed that corrective rape is common in the asexual community. In a 2013 interview in the Huffington Post, she talks about sexual harassment and assault perpetuated by men who claimed to have the victims interests at heart.
Many believe that corrective rape should be recognized as a hate crime because of the misunderstanding of homosexuality and the animus toward gay people that motivate corrective rape. Perpetrators often think that raping a lesbian, gay, transgender or queer identified person will “correct” their sexual identity, orientation, and gender expression. This type of rape is not always an individual act either, it can have a group mentality to garner support, it can be promoted within a community, and then ignored.
As a survivor, advocate and ally, I have found that rape perpetuated under the guise of “corrective rape” is often minimized by the community. Efforts to serve the victim, to solve the crime, to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice are often pushed aside as less important.
There is a viewpoint that all rape is a hate crime, because it is directed specifically against a gender, an identity, a population. Rape is used to denigrate, control, abuse and force power over another person because they are female, they are transgender, they are gay or lesbian, they display non-conforming gender or sexual identity and expression, they are vulnerable due to disabilities, illness, or immigration status.
For help or information? Here are some options…
If you have been raped, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room.
For information on how to report in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100, that is 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 West Grace Street.
To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.
For those in Virginia who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer or questioning, you can access a free and confidential telephone service called The LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline at 1.866.356.6998 Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 pm for help regarding intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. The Virginia Anti-Violence Project at virginiaavp.org stands ready to work with anyone who wants to address anti-LGBTQ violence in Virginia and to help build safe communities. The number again is: 1.866.356.6998.
For listeners from outside of Virginia: GLBT National Hotline @ 1-888-843-4565 or go to GLNH.org/hotline/
For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.
Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at email@example.com or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at www.thevword.org
The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3, read and produced by me, Carol Olson.