South Africa


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South Africa

Since 2004, in South Africa, there has been a growing awareness that prison rape does occur and that it is a problem. In addition to admitting that prison rape is a problem, a Pretoria local prison doctor stated that the measures that the prison imposed to protect its inmates are inadequate. The system is so inadequate that once a rape is reported, the victim, in most cases, is not able to see a doctor until a day later-resulting in the loss of crucial evidence. In addition, most victims are not even given psychological help: the examining doctor determines that only those with the "most severe" trauma are entitled to it.

Another problem is that there is a lot of grey area when trying to make a policy suitable for this type of situation. Currently, in Cape Town, South Africa, this confusion of policy makes it very hard to prevent sexual assault within the South African prisons. In addition, consensual sex among inmates is constitutionally legal; the problem that prison officials are facing is that most times, it isn't.

A lot of the nonconsensual sex happens across gender identity. Participants are labeled either men or women (based on prison culture), depending on the person's role during the sex. Most of the sex is blatant rape. According to prison customs, anyone who has been "sexually penetrated in a power-defined interaction", is thought of as a woman, and being a woman, it is their job to provide the "men" with sex. For the woman, the "marriage" starts off with the rape and continues with more rape and the addition of constant humiliation. Moreover, the prisoners do not construe this as the taboo act of homosexuality because each participant, willing or unwilling, is "assigned" a role.

Africa: Part 2