2013 Feb. 25: Documentary Review : Raped for Who I Am

Year: (2006)
Duration: 27 mins

Director: Lovinsa Kavuma

Main characters: Bathini Dambuza, Buhle Msibi, Kebarileng Sebetoane, Mary Louw and Zanele Muholi


The title itself is disturbing, it sends a sharp, shivering pain through our spinal cords. It’s a lesbian’s worst nightmare. Being raped in our communities never seems to make send; in fact I just don’t understand what drives a person to violate another person’s privacy, private emotions and private space.

Lovinsa Kavuma has brought this adrenaline-filled, heart wrenching and painful story, based in the townships of our country, documenting the lives of South African black lesbians.
She gives them the platform, the chance to speak out and share their horrific stories. The documentary runs for 27 minutes, 27 minutes of brutal honesty, pure emotions of lesbians who have become victims of corrective rape. I saw all sorts of faces, backgrounds, different homes, but one common factor that put them in one box, corrective rape.

I am amazed at how the director kept the cast at ease, comfortable to go through scene after scene through their terrible ordeals; I felt their pain, their burden that they carry.

The documentary’s dramatic tone, true nature of the film, was exceptional. I felt the sadness shatter my heart as one of the characters explained how she was first raped by her own father. Thereafter followed by two rape incidents, the struggle with her mother for acceptance and the deep history involved with her abusive father. She has been through so much, only halfway her life, and has already endured the worst crime against women.

In one of the opening scenes, a man in the back ground who clearly does not understand the lifestyles of homosexual people who adheres to what the community feeds them, and hides behind culture. I think our families and friends should embrace them for who they are, not for what they are labeled as, and culture should not be the base of hate crimes, for everyone is equal in the universe and above.

It’s a touching story, certainly not for the soft-hearted. I must say I had to develop a tough skin, stay objective while watching the documentary as a black lesbian. However, I disliked the one sided aspect of the story, it lacked objectiveness; you see tackling issues. We need to know both sides of the story, why it happens, why they do it and how the survivors feel about it. We often don’t admit to this, but most homophobic attacks are due to people who don’t understand the lifestyle, they are not familiar with it. We cannot blame an individual for not understanding certain lifestyles, and being uncomfortable in unfamiliar environments.

It is only fair that we hear the side of the community as well. I would have loved for the story to document the lighter side of lesbians. Document their careers and supporting families.
Show the audience that despite people’s sexualities, at the end of the day, it does not define them.
Overall, the documentary was well expressed, a few minor shortcomings, but well written, and well directed. It is what I call a screen shot of what black lesbians go through everyday, it’s a struggle, and it goes on.
Peace and love

Zandile’s previous writing

2013 Feb. 14: Hello, my name is Zandile, and I am in love with a woman

This entry was posted in Abantu, Activism, Black Lesbians, Black Lesbians & Allies Against Hate Crimes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 2013 Feb. 25: Documentary Review : Raped for Who I Am

  1. Lesego Tlhwale says:

    Firstly I would like to applaud you for the great review Zandile. Secondly, I also had a chance to watch the doccie a while back, and like you said it a very sad film to watch. Hearing my fellow lesbian sisters talk about being raped for who they are is really difficult stomach as a lesbian. However, I believe such stories need to be told in order for the world, policy-makers and influential people to see what kind of scars these actions leave in the lives of the victims.

    Another thing is that, when we talk about rape we can’t but be biased, how do you stay objective when you report on issues of rape? The minute you become objective for me it means
    you condone the actions of the perpetrators; its like giving them a platform to justify why they rape lesbian or any female bodied person out there. And the fact that some people don’t understand the lifestyle of homosexuals doesn’t give them the right to rape or inflict pain on anyone.

  2. lebohang says:

    Hi! Touching story indeed I would love to see the documentary where can I go see it that is true what u have quoted thre we have seen the one side of documentaries whereby we only hear the stories of the victims maybe with thorough search we can also get the perpetrators or even the evil doers toi tell us what exactly make them to do what thy doing and why wth those few answers who knows maybe we can get through people an minimise the hate crimes.

  3. zandile says:

    thanks lesego, and thank you for the honesty, i do understand some of your points and understand them its just all the more reason for us as lesbians to get together and address these issues, i think alot of us have different opinions regarding such issues. peace and love

  4. i can agree using the write-up

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