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‘Corrective rape’ Lesbian targeted by men who want to ‘straighten them out’

Published:Wednesday | December 3, 2014 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris

A recent study has shown that 47 per cent of lesbian and bisexual women in Jamaica have faced threats of sexual violence, actual sexual violence and/or sexual harassment by men, with the intention, in some cases, to "straighten them out".

The study, which was carried out by local human-rights advocacy group Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ), was conducted online this year. Of 103 respondents surveyed, 23 per cent indicated that the sexual violation happened after they came out as lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Latoya Nugent, the education manager for the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), said corrective rape is a growing problem for lesbians and bisexual women in Jamaica.

Of the eight sexual-violence reports, the organisation received between January 2013 and November 2013, for example, seven were perpetrated against women and one was perpetrated against a man.

"Some persons have indicated that it was because of their sexual orientation, and because there is a belief that it can be corrected, they were sexually violated, and that is where the term 'corrective rape' comes from," said Nugent.

"There is a belief by men that if women are exposed to the right kind of heterosexual intercourse, then it will 'fix' or change their sexual orientation," added Nugent.

She said in most of the cases, the women do not report the sexual assault because they would rather keep their sexual orientation a secret.

"It is something that affects the community because of the fear of being 'outed' and the fear of being further discriminated against. What we find is that a number of persons are very reluctant to report incidents of sexual violence against their person to the police, even though there seems to be a sort of shift, or some incremental progress, in terms of how the police deal with diverse populations," declared Nugent.

TRICKED, ROBBED, RAPED

Executive director of the QCJ, Angeline Jackson, believes she was sexually assaulted in 2009 because she is a lesbian. Jackson said she, along with a friend, had decided to meet another female whom she had never met. Neither female thought much of it when the mystery lady decided to send her 'stepbrother' to escort them to the agreed venue.

"On the way there, we were held up, robbed at gunpoint, and I was forced to perform oral sex on the gunman," said Jackson, who explained that a man armed with a gun joined the stepbrother and assaulted them.

She was speared penile penetration because she was menstruating; however, her friend was raped.

"I decided to take the matter to the police, and the police in St Ann told me I should go back to church, so I went to the police in Spanish Town, who were a lot more professional in handling the situation. It went through all the channels. They did do an identification parade and the matter went to court and the person was convicted; however, the sentence was overturned on appeal."

Jackson said her sexual orientation was not a secret and she believes the two men worked with a woman and had made a habit of luring unsuspecting lesbians and then raping them in an effort to 'correct' them.

"I met another survivor at the police station, who had also come in to do an ID parade, and I also met another woman afterwards, who was adamant that she would never report the matter to the police," said Jackson, as she noted that the QCJ survey showed that 77 per cent of those who were sexually violated did not report the matter to the police.

"Rape is a violation, and women are generally reluctant to report rape, much less being a lesbian and a bisexual woman. In addition to the regular victim blaming, you are now blamed for your orientation as the motivating factor," said Jackson.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com