A 13-year-old girl in South Africa has reportedly become the latest victim of the ‘corrective rape’ epidemic.

The girl, who was attacked on Thursday in Pretoria, was said to be open about being a lesbian and it is believed she was targeted for this reason.

The phenomenon of corrective rape involves the targeting of lesbians in order to ‘cure’ them. There have been high-profile cases in the country, including the recent rape and murder of gay rights campaigner Noxolo Nogwaza.

Government spokesman Tlali Tlali promised a police investigation and assistance for the girl and her family.

“The government condemns this senseless and cowardly act of criminality,” he said.

”Gay and lesbian rights are human and constitutional rights which must be protected and respected at all times.”

Dipika Nath, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said: ”If the police and other state officials do not act swiftly, it will only be a matter of time before they have to account for their failure to the family and friends of the next lesbian who is beaten and killed.”

Last week, the government announced the formation of a task team to tackle anti-gay hate crimes.

A government spokesman said that the task force would comprise the police, the social development department, six judges and six LGBT campaigners.

The team will be charged with developing a legislative intervention plan, a public awareness strategy, and LGBTI-sensitive shelters, he said.