During a dreary Sunday morning church service, 14-year-old Viviane – tired of wrestling with her sexual attraction to girls – resigned herself to an unhappy conclusion: she was bewitched.
At school and at church in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, she had long been told that liking someone of the same sex was not only a sin, but could also be a sign that a sinister spell had been cast on you.
“I didn’t see girls like everyone else – I thought it was a bad spirit that had invaded me,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation with a rueful laugh by phone from France, where she sought asylum last year with her girlfriend’s help.
“So I started praying to make it go away.”
But her prayers failed. Four years later, Viviane was chained to the wall and violently raped by a man who her family forced her to marry after discovering that she was a lesbian.
From South Africa to India and Ecuador, gay people are subjected to ‘corrective rape’ by their families, strangers and vigilantes who believe that homosexuality is a mental illness that needs to be ‘cured’. Read more