Shanti Aboobaker

THE Justice Department is developing a policy and possibly legislation to deal with hate crimes.

Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana told the media yesterday that following a spate of homophobic violence, including so-called “corrective rape” and murder of lesbians, that the two departments were leading a campaign to fight these crimes.

Xingwana agreed violence against lesbians had reached “high” levels in the country.

“Yes, we think it is high but I think the government, in particular our department, and the justice and police departments, have been leading a campaign to fight these homophobic crimes,” Xingwana said.

“But the issue of corrective rape has actually come down in recent months due to [work by] NGOs,” she said later.

She said in Gauteng and the Western Cape – where there was a corrective rape and murder by stabbing a week and a half ago – her department was working closely with the police ministry.

Xingwana’s department was also working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex leaders and organisations.

The department is to launch the annual 16 Days of Activism to prevent violence against women this weekend, and the campaign will end with the launch by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on December 10, of a council assigned to investigating the issue.

Xingwana said one problem in combating this kind of violence was that abused women tended to be reluctant to report such crimes, and also frequently withdrew charges.