Lesbian lives don’t matter enough (practically everywhere). Many women are viciously attacked and gruesomely murdered under the guise of hate. South African soccer star Eudy Simelane suffered such a fatal fate.
The screening of Eudy Simelane: A Life Cut Short at the Batho ba Lorato Film Festival re-opened and salted closed wounds.
Eudy Simelane, a renowned South African national soccer star, was brutally gang raped and murdered in her home town Kwa-Thema, South Africa. Her killing unveiled a deep cancer within the community – it personified the cultural, religious and societal intolerances towards the LGBTQI community and forced people to internalize how bigotry creates a ripe environment for hate crimes to happen.
The documentary unloaded the violent results of society’s violent obsession with gender roles and sexual orientation. Eudy came from a family of avid soccer fanatics. Both her parents and her brother were soccer players. However, Eudy’s undeniable talent for soccer and autonomic expression was met with stigmatic hues from the perpetrators. This is noted through Eudy’s brother Bafana, who expressed anguishing displeasure to the men that brutally violated Eudy’s body. “It was planned, it was planned just because you cannot be famous in the township, and have someone do something bad to you, as if they don’t know who you are. “ he said in the film. “They knew her. Why couldn’t they ask her out? Or try to establisher her gender? And fail knowing that they tried to ask her out?,” he stressed, with piercing tears gliding downwards, meeting at the bottom of his chin.
Rape cases similar to Eudy’s are extremely unreported in Botswana, as GBV indicator study Botswana reports that the number of reported rape cases has increased by 24% from 2003 to 2010, and of course, a larger number of unreported cases based on stigmatic practices, as lesbians face different forms of marginalization in society.
Eudy’s story ignited the need to speak more on the importance of eradicating discrimination and protecting the lives of lesbians in Botswana. A conversation that could not be ignored inside of one the most popular cinemas in the country. Which deems the power of the Batho Ba Lorato Film Festival.
On its fifth edition, the film festival ignited discussions surrounding discrimination and internalized pain that the LGBTQI community face, as well as trekking a journey towards an inclusive society where LGBTI rights are implemented. The festival included a panel discussion where everyone could express their thoughts on movies shared. Kutlwano, one of the panellists shared her thoughts on Eudy’s documentary.
“what is correctional rape?” she asked, “what are they correcting?” she further probes – showing how society greets the hate crime with a problematic definition. She further mentioned that she feels that if we carry on with the term ‘correctional rape’ society will think that there is something wrong with the victim. Recollecting on a previous conversation she had with a colleague, where her colleague expressed that she is sympathetic towards the perpetrators as society has taught them that there is something wrong with the women. Kutlwano boldly pronounced the need for LGBTQI activists to keep spreading accurate information and continue such conversations where we have to redefine the definition of targeted rape towards lesbians – especially lesbians that are practicing their right of freedom of expression, by how they express themselves in garment and challenge stereotypical gender identities.