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The Tragic Death of Eudy Simelane

October 14, 2010

The Guardian recently reported the death of Eudy Simelane, a professional football player killed as a result of homophobia. Simelane’s death raises important issues of gender and sexuality in football.

In 2008 Eudy Simelane was sexually assaulted, beaten, and then left for dead. Eudy Simelane was a prominent South African footballer who played for a local club after her retirement from international football. She was also the country’s first female referee.

Rates of sexual assault are disturbingly high in South Africa. The Guardian states: “South Africa has the highest incidence of rape in the world. The statistics are chilling: one in two women are raped; women are more likely to be raped than to learn to read.” With this information in mind, Simelane’s death is not a remarkable occurrence in South Africa. However, Simelane was targeted not just because she was a woman, but also because she was a lesbian. Eudy Simelane was a victim of corrective rape.

While all women face a very high risk of sexual assault, lesbians in South Africa are specifically targeted in a campaign against homosexuality. As South Africa moves towards legal equality for homosexuals, opponents have responded with violent backlash. Corrective rape is a tool used by disgruntled men who see the changing legal standing of lesbians as an affront to their masculinity. Corrective rape is committed by these men as a means to “cure” women of homosexuality. They believe the women will cease being lesbians once they are reminded of their “inherent” heterosexuality.

The disturbing case of Eudy Simelane highlights an aspect of homophobia that is often ignored. Female footballers are affected by homophobia in ways that are both sexist and homophobic. Female footballers are commonly described as lesbians or perceived as lacking femininity. Women’s sports are frequently relegated to the background, breeding additional contempt for female athletes. When these ideas mix with violence against homosexuals, as occurred with Eudy Simelane, the results can be tragic.

[The Guardian]

– E.A.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Zinaid. permalink
    October 14, 2010 5:02 am

    It’s disgusting to hear that this isn’t out of the norm and that these “men” actually believe that corrective rape will somehow ‘cure’ or ‘fix’ someone of being gay/lesbian when being a homosexual is not a disease.

  2. jenn permalink
    October 14, 2010 7:23 am

    This is saddening and disturbing. The idea that men feel the need to “correct” a woman’ sexuality, as if by doing so they will become even more of a man. This article is a good reminder, however, to us all, that homophobia isn’t just about gay men in sports.

    Thank you for sharing this article

  3. Lisa permalink
    October 14, 2010 5:57 pm

    it’s frightening to think that somewhere in the world happens something like this. How can people think of homosexuality like some kind of desease?
    Thanks for sharing this anyway.

  4. anna permalink
    October 15, 2010 12:51 am

    I.don’t.get.it. How does raping someone “cure” them of their sexuality? Honestly, it just makes them sick of men even more. These monsters!

  5. Julia permalink
    October 17, 2010 3:04 am

    Rape, if anything, would only make a woman less keen to ever having relations with a man. If homosexuality even WORKED like that, this kind of thing would turn half the women in South African into lesbians 😐

  6. Loezzy permalink
    October 26, 2010 11:03 am

    This is disgusting. I just can’t believe it.

    Reminds me a little bit of the girls soccer team in Turkey that had to quit because some men thought those girls became too boyish and ugly from training. Seriously, what is wrong with those people? Luckily other people protested and those girls can now play soccer again.

  7. achitophel permalink
    October 29, 2010 12:37 am

    This tragic story really brings home to me the fact that the homophobia and sexism we see in football (and elsewhere in society) all stems from the idea of “proper” gender roles– men must be masculine as culture defines it and women must be feminine, or they are somehow “unnatural” and “wrong.” We need to keep this big picture in mind and not narrow our focus too much, or else we lose sight of the root of the problem.

  8. February 7, 2013 6:30 pm

    Well now, what do we have here? This story is saddening and disturbing and provokes lots of anger and no I am not a lesbian, but I am a woman and to me, no different from our victim, Eudy. None of her accomplishments mattered? REALLY??? Therefore, these men should be ‘fixed’ too, and we all know how to do it. They all REALLY think that the little piece of flesh hanging between their legs is powerful and defines masculinity! What crockery! “Corrective castration/severing” is in order! If that was in America, another ‘Lorena Bobbitt’ would have been born point blank! No one should be allowed to get away with this.

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