Submission to the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services

Torture in DCS Facilities – Sexual Abuse, HIV, and Gender Inequality

Sonke has worked closely with DCS since 2007, conducting peer education for offenders and members in facilities in the Western Cape and Gauteng. Using our One Man Can and Brothers for Life curricula, the peer education focuses on improving the health-seeking behaviors of inmates and members, and trains participants to act as leaders within their correctional community, providing support, education, and an example of healthy living to their counterparts. It is Sonke’s view that rigid gender norms and negative masculinities contribute to the issues of gender-based violence and spread of HIV in communities inside and outside of correctional centres. Thus, in addition to providing information on sexually transmitted infections and HIV, we also train offenders and members about the unequal gender dynamics that contribute to the spread of HIV, prevent men from accessing health services, and leads them towards violence – both between men and against women and children. Sonke now works in partnership with Just Detention International (JDI) and Johns Hopkins Health and Education for South Africa, among other organisations, and seeks to promote a policy environment that addresses the issues of sexual violence and HIV in DCS centres.