Meet a Woman Who is a Modern Day Hero
Mummy Busi is the Epitome of Strength and Resilience.
©Iris Lebrun (www.vimeo.com)
*Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault Content*
It’s no secret that women in South Africa have faced (and continue to face) many societal hardships. Gender equality is anything but prevalent. Social stigmas, hatred, bigotry, and abuse are horrendous hurdles that all South African women experience, and they are exponentially worse for South African lesbians.
Being disowned by family, social outcasts, and repression are commonplace. Homosexuality is not socially accepted. In fact, “corrective rape” is seen as a cure to lesbianism. In these cases, rape is not seen as a brutal attack, but rather a way to change one’s sexual orientation. By being raped, these women are supposed to “turn straight.”
The reality is that this form of “therapy” is only more harmful. In a culture where these women are already victimized, this notion of corrective rape only makes the women that much more vulnerable and puts them at greater risk. Countless women have undergone such “therapeutic treatment.” Some have lived, some have died, and some still live in fear and lead a life of heterosexual lies.
Thankfully, their cries for help are not falling on deaf ears. As LGBT rights continue to be addressed on a global level, journalists and humanitarians of all sorts are working to raise awareness of corrective rape. Priscilla Frank recently published an article on the Huffington Post’s website discussing the “Rainbow Girls,” and the difficulties facing South African lesbians. Julia Gunther has been documenting the lesbian community and culture in South Africa through her photographs. French freelance journalist and documentarian Iris Lebrun recently released a short documentary titled, “Mummy Busi, a Story of Love and Violence.”
Lebrun’s fourteen minute documentary introduces us to a wonderful woman named Busisiwe. She is a hard working mother of five. It’s easy to connect quickly with Busisiwe and her family. They are warm, endearing, funny, talented, and compassionate. They take us into their daily lives, as well as the depths of their hearts. We quickly learn of the difficulties she and the children face. We understand the prejudice that awaits them at every turn. Not only are we able to put a face to corrective rape, we see just how severely someone can be destroyed by it. We are reminded of the people – the souls – who have been tortured by corrective rape. We learn this is a human issue, not just a women’s issue or an LGBT issue. This is about humanity: all of humanity.
“Mummy Busi, a Story of Love and Violence” is an incredibly powerful short documentary. It is currently in the festival circuit, and was included in the official selection of the Oregon International Queer Film Festival. This film has already had a tremendous global impact, and it will continue to do so as it reaches more viewers.
Some of the greatest crimes against humanity are the ones we are seeing befall the South African LGBT community. Photographers like Julia Gunther, and film makers such as Iris Lebrun are helping to awaken the world to these travesties. Through films like “Mummy Busi, a Story of Love and Violence,” we are all given a chance to see the reality of corrective rape. We are given a chance to see the faces and hear the voices of those who have been so brutally attacked. Most importantly, we are given the chance to help change the world for the better.