Gender-Based Violence and minority groups:

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) populations

ALL over the world violence affects every country and every community.  So too are the devastating impact on LGBTQ populations.  It is estimated that nearly one in ten LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) has experienced sexual abuse or assault from their partners.  Fifty percent of transgender people and bisexual women, according to studies, will experience sexual violence at some point in their lives (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects).

Overall, the LGBTQ communities are facing higher rates of poverty, stigma, discrimination, marginalisation which all contribute to a greater risk of sexual assault.  Hate-motivated violence many times take on the form of sexual assault.  With most societies hypersexualising LGBTQ people, meaning stereotyping LGBTQ people as extremely or excessively sexual, the stigmatisation of relationships between partners and partner violence may stem from internalised homophobia and shame.

More attention is placed on stigmatisation and discrimination, and communities in general do not talk about how sexual violence affects the LGBTQ community and their unique needs. This is especially evident when thinking of prevention of violence, caring and support for survivors. 

Some statistics

46% of bisexual women have been raped

17% of straight women have been raped

13% of lesbian women have been raped

47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape

40% of gay men have experienced sexual violence other than rape

21% of straight men have experienced sexual violence other than rape

47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime

Sexual violence is particularly high among transgender people and bisexual women which often already starts during childhood.  With discrimination and stigma around their identities, many LGBTQ survivors of sexual assaultoften hesitate to seek help from police, hospitals, shelters or rape crisis centres, the very resources that are supposed to protect and help them.

Many timesGBV against and within LGBT spaces is only considered from two perspectives: Hate crimes against gay men and lesbian/bisexual women as well as trans-persons, and “curative rape” against lesbian and bisexual women and trans-persons because of their sexuality.

Reporting and Support

Globally, in many countries, most victims report that they have experienced denial of essential services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is no different in Namibia.  Many victims would rather not report sexual assault, rape, harassment or any violence-related incidences to police out of fear of discrimination, violence and being further traumatised by health and protection services.  They experience healthcare workers not willing to assist or provide services they have a right to as citizens of Namibia.  They are denied their fundamental human rights under the Namibian Constitution, Patient Charter and many other equal rights policies across different service providing dimensions.  Amidst international laws and agreements signed by Namibia, putting these regulations and policies into practice, is not being monitored.  Ignorance is bliss. 

The sexual violence epidemic in the LGBTQ community is something everyone should address. Blaming LGBTQ victims of violence only leads to further segregation of Namibians, where the patriarchal culture is being fed by those who entitle themselves a status of superiority.  No human being deserves to be violated based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, whether LGBTQ or not.

Being an Ally

Learning how to be an ally to LGBTQ people takes both time and effort. While it may not always feel that you are giving enough support, remember that the community is diverse and being an ally may mean different things to different people.  Start by talking about issues that LGBTQ people face in society.  Ask questions.  Don’t judge.  Most LGBTQ individuals have known since childhood that they are different, and children may also have questions.  Respect, kindness, compassion and acceptance of individual differences should be the foundation of how a nation sees and treats their own. Older children need to understand the difference between sex and gender, and that everyone has a gender identity (innate sense of who we are that isn’t influenced by our body parts or who others think we are). We know ourselves better than anyone else can. Support organisations.  Lastly, read up and understand the constitution, human rights and what it really means to love thy neighbour.

LifeLine/ChildLine’s Psychosocial Services

Providing psychosocial services to children, victims and perpetrators are essential to the healing and growth of our nation.  LifeLine/ChildLine Namibia is a registered Welfare Organisation and NGO whose vision is ‘safer, healthier, more resilient children, families and communities in Namibia’. The organisation operates a National Counselling Centre in Windhoek, which handles different telephone, sms, face-to-face and online counselling services for the whole of Namibia. All services are free of charge.  Operating within their scope of practice and adhering to all national laws, our counsellors are ready to listen and assist.  The call centre is open from 08:00 – 20:00 daily.  LifeLine/ChildLine Namibia is here for you. Please do not play on the lines, you block the lines for those who may be in immediate need of help!