Sonke & TAC make submission to parliament on sexual abuse and HIV in correctional centres

The submission, made to the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, is in lead up to a hearing on the prevalence of torture in Department of Correctional Services (DCS) facilities. As a form of torture, prison rape is a clear violation of offenders human rights. There are also critical links between sexual abuse and gender inequality and HIV in DCS facilities. This joint submission examines the gendered aspects of sexual violence in correctional centres, how rape shapes offenders understandings of gender and sexuality, and how it fuels a cycle of violence both in and out of prisons. We also underscore the connection between HIV and sexual violence in prisons, and highlight the specific needs of male survivors of sexual assault, who are largely invisible in our society.

There are promising developments which will lay the foundation for the work needed to protect the rights of inmates against sexual abuse. There is a draft policy framework to address the sexual abuse of inmates that is currently pending, and the Correctional Matters Amendment Act, passed in May 2011, contains a provision requiring the assessment of new detainees for vulnerability to sexual abuse. The new National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB 2012-2016 (NSP) also calls on DCS to enforce laws and policies to prevent sexual abuse of inmates as a strategy to stem the spread of HIV. In addition to adopting these pending documents and enforcing existing laws, Sonke and TAC made recommendations for DCS to do the following:

  • Engage with the development of operational plans for the NSP (which calls for prevention of prison rape),
  • Integrate training on sexual violence and HIV into DCS training college curricula, and
  • Work with other governmental departments and civil society to ensure the provision of appropriate services to offenders

Download: The TAC & Sonke Parliamentary Submission