During 2008 Triangle Project conducted a needs assessment with lesbian and

During 2008 triangle project conducted a needs

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During 2008, Triangle Project conducted a needs assessment with lesbian and bisexual women living in rural and peri-urban areas in the Western Cape. The study was conducted with 45 black 2 participants from the Worcester, Paarl and Wellington areas. Close to half (49%) of the participants reported experiences of sexual harassment in a public place other than their neighbourhood and 44% said they have experience sexual harassment in their neighbourhoods. Of these participants 17% reported experiences of rape, with 7% stating they had been raped more than once. Sexual harassment of lesbians often characterised by threats of rape as the following interview extracts illustrate: The most important issue facing lesbians in Paarl is sexual harassment from people on the street. I’m being sexually harassed by a rude guy. Always when he sees me he will always threaten and harass me. He says that I’m not a man that I’m a woman and one of these days he’s going to rape me to 2 Refers to ‘coloured’ and ‘African’/’Xhosa’ T RIANGLE P ROJECT : S UBMISSION O N T HE P ROTECTION F ROM H ARASSMENT B ILL , 30 S EPTEMBER 2010 P AGE 3 of 13
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prove that I’m not a man and I must stop acting like a man. I’ve told my family about it and I need help [nterview with T, Paarl, April 2008] . They harass us. They ask my girlfriend why she’s dating a tomboy. They tell me that they will rape me to make me right [Interview with B, Paarl, April 2008] In contrast, reported experiences of sexual harassment at work were lower (20% of respondents reported experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace). This however is reflective of the unemployment figure for this sample, which was sixty percent. In a participatory research study conducted by Triangle Project during 2009 and 2010, participants made similar references regarding harassment and their sense of on the streets and in their neighbourhood. For example, a participant from Nyanga reflected: There is no peace for me when I’m walking on the street in my community, because of my sexuality. Boys in the streets see me as an insane girl as if I don’t know what I want. Some will threaten to rape me, some will insult me [Story of participant from Nyanga, February 2010] It is also important to note that these threats of rape or violence are carried out in the most extreme forms of violence against lesbians. For example, one of the participants in the study respondent said that she was “raped by a man just because I’m a lesbian and he believed that if I feel a dick I won’t be one anymore.” On the 4 th February 2006, Zoliswa Nkonyana (18), who was openly lesbian, was stoned beaten and stabbed to death in Khayelitshia by a gang of at least nine men. P (Zoliswa friend who was also attacked that night) has provided an account of what happened. The attack began with verbal taunts, where she and Zoliswa, were first harassed inside of a shebeen when they were told not to use the women’s toilets. The harassment continued outside, where Zoliswa and the witness were taunted and told that they were “tomboys who want to get raped ”. T RIANGLE P ROJECT
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