Male prison rape survivors speak out

  • Emily Nagisa Keehn and Sasha Gear
  • October 14, 2015
  • Mail and Guardian

South African prisons are notorious the world over for their endemic sexual abuse. Despite this, prisoner rape is not well understood by the South African public and government, and does not receive the serious attention it urgently needs. This is according to a report compiled by Emily Nagisa Keehn, policy development and advocacy manager at Sonke Gender Justice and Sasha Gear, programme director at Just Detention International, South Africa.

Sonke, Just Detention International – South Africa, and NICRO have partnered to increase public awareness of sexual abuse in prison. Three men came forward to share their stories about surviving rape in prison. Vincent*, Francois and Thabo* are the first South African survivors of prisoner rape to tell their stories in this way.

Vincent* tells how he was raped by two gang members in an overcrowded cell in a Western Cape facility while awaiting trial. This was his first sexual experience. Vincent asked for help from nurses, wardens, priests, social workers and even a magistrate, who he says did nothing to help him “ some telling him to expect this treatment in prison. He only received medical attention three years later, when he was sentenced. He then learned that he was HIV-positive as a result of the rape. Vincent has called on the department of correctional services to take measures to stop this from happening to others and encouraged survivors to speak up.