Angry for Eudy Simelane

Earlier this week, the men accused of killing Eudy Simelane appeared in front of a Springs magistrate again. One accused was set free, while the remaining four will appear on trial in February 2009. Eudy’s case is both commonplace and a spotlight on the plight of Black lesbians in South Africa. Oftentimes when feminists speak of the ways in which violence is endemic and how women in this country are held in a state of constant self-censorship, we are told we are over-reacting. Yes, the previous president (Mbeki) was one of those people who was not entirely able to deal with the fact of the very real siege that characterises how South African public and private spaces are gendered. Even more sinister responses usually remind us that the women with the loudest mouths are professionals and therefore out of touch with the reality of most women in South Africa.

This is a red herring. All women in South Africa are under threat of violence. Constantly. Yes, some are more endangered than others. Nobody seems to be as reguarly attacked as Black lesbians. The fact of their professionalism, the fact of their visibility is no protection. Eudy Simelane’s attack proves this, in case there ever was any real doubt. Ms Simelane was a visible woman, a player in the women’s national soccer team, Banyana Banyana, and yet she was not safe from the violent hatred that is the shadow haunting those women who love themselves and other women like them unapologetically. In a twisted irony, she was killed the day after our 14th Freedom Day as a nation.

I despair when I note how little media attention the ongoing postponements attract, how few published commentaries there are on the scourge of what Wendy Isaack previously dubbed “curative rapes”, but which increasingly are being called “corrective rapes” and murders of Black lesbians in South Africa today.

Yes, her case has been postponed yet again. One of the accused has been let free even as a cloud hangs over his face and involvement. Perhaps he will turn valuable State witness.

Today, again, my thoughts turn to Eudy as well as the many Black lesbians whose names are known and not known to me, who have been raped and otherwise violently attacked for loving women. I turn to the ones who survived and those who have not. My thoughts turn to the women who have been raped already – lesbian and not – in the time it has taken me to type this entry.

And I am angry on their behalf – at the society that lets it happen, that continues to bring up young men who think women’s bodies are their entitlement, at the police officers, lawyers, magistrates and judges who let them get away while they secondary victimise the survivors, at my fellow feminists who would rather talk about broad gender based violence than use our collective voices always to say lesbians are under constant attack in our midst.


Posted on 9 October 2008, in things that suck, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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