A small group of lesbian activists from the poverty-stricken townships of Cape Town walked into South African parliament on Monday and convinced their government to finally start fighting the country’s decades-old scourge of “corrective rape” — where men rape lesbian women to “turn” them straight. You made that moment possible.
Late last year, these activists called on the world to help them pressure their leaders to take action on corrective rape. We answered their call, and more than 170,000 Change.org members from 163 countries joined with them, making this the largest campaign of all time on Change.org.
Three and a half months later, they succeeded. Teaming up with 23 major South African organizations, they got some of the most powerful officials in the country to agree to bring together various government arms and civil society groups to develop and implement a national action plan to combat corrective rape.
The ministry officials asked for details of specific cases in need of immediate attention, committed to a series of meetings beginning in six weeks, and promised to present concrete proposals to prevent corrective rape by the next meeting.
It’s an astounding victory, far beyond what we ever could have imagined when we set out late last year. Now these activists need your help holding the government accountable for its commitments.
If there was any question about the effect you had, the chief of staff himself confirmed it: At one point in the session he explicitly said, in a pleading voice, “Please don’t petition us again.”
But that’s exactly what we need to do. The government is making a series of urgent decisions on sexual violence legislation in the next few weeks, and South African activists need your help in pressuring them to follow up their words with tangible action: