At Girls & Football SA, an award-winning organization in South Africa that focuses on the development of girls and young women through sport, media and education, the focus is placed on creating a safe space for the development of girls. Through their unique programming, Girls & Football SA team has designed workshops dedicated solely to the development of girls and young women.
Through their work, they both tackle and raise awareness on the challenges girls and women face in South Africa. It goes without saying that the high numbers of HIV/Aids, of sexual harassment and sexual assaults are devastating, but South Africa is facing an under reported challenge – ‘corrective rape’, which is effecting the livelihood and safety of lesbian women in the country.
‘Corrective rape’ is the term used to describe when men rape lesbians in what they see as an attempt to ‘correct’ their sexual behavior. As Founder and Director Jos Dirkx explains,
“Lesbian girls or women of any age can be targeted in such an attack. As a result, many girls and women feel it is unsafe to have a ‘different’ sexual orientation, and they also feel that society struggles to accept lesbian women, despite South Africa’s progressive constitution and the legalization of gay marriage which came into effect in 2006 when the Civil Union Act came into force”.
She goes on to state that,
“Although corrective rape does happen, it’s important to recognize that change is being made by many young South Africans, and various organizations and individuals that believe in safety and equality”.