Male prison rape survivors speak out

Originally posted on May 20, 2015

Prison rape remains a major issue in the United States. Despite the Prison Rape Elimination Act passing several years ago, states do little to reform their prison systems. Texas Governor Rick Perry has even refused to implement the changes suggested by the act.

Yet that inaction pales in comparison to how other countries view prison rape. Many countries do not acknowledge it occurs. Those that do often do nothing to curb the assaults. This is particularly true in countries where social norms prevent victims from coming forward. Such is the case in South Africa. Fortunately, there is a new effort to raise awareness:

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.

The three men’s stories can be viewed below. Their stories give a personal and raw voice to the violence many inmates face in prison. As a society, we often do not want to listen to these stories because they are so disturbing. This must change. While it may be uncomfortable to hear what these men suffered, we must listen if we intend to prevent it from happening again.

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