Male prison rape survivors speak out

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. Continue reading

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Conference for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Held in Portland — The Oregon Abuse Advocates & Survivors in Service has partnered with Reed College’s Sexual Assault and Prevention and Response program to host a special conference for male survivors of sexual abuse and assault on Friday and Saturday, May 29th and 30th. The conference is entitled Male Survivor Dare to Dream Weekend and is open to male survivors, their loved ones, and professionals or advocates who work for male survivors.

Florida woman gets 50 years in prison for sex abuse of minors — A northeast Florida woman has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for her role in the sexual abuse of minors from a school in Flagler County. A judge in St. Johns County imposed the sentence Wednesday on 51-year-old Rhonda Wilkerson, calling her actions “despicable.” Police arrested Wilkerson in February 2014 after claims by children at an area school that they had been sexually abused by Wilkerson and a man, William Dillow.

Gov. Scott Orders Prison Changes to Reduce Beatings, Corruption — Gov. Rick Scott ordered changes at the Department of Corrections on Friday to address prison beatings and corruption after the Legislature went home without doing the same. The Legislature was working on bills to address problems after a series of reports detailed deaths, cover-ups and corruption in the prison system. But the bills died when the Florida House went home three days early over a budget impasse and a dispute with the Senate over health care coverage for the poor. Continue reading

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Diocese of Joliet will pay $4.14 million to 14 men abused as boys by pedophile priests — A suburban Chicago diocese will pay millions in a settlement with 14 men who, as children, were abused by five Roman Catholic priests. The Diocese of Joliet will fork over $4.14 million to the victims, many of whom were preteens when the abuse took place at several different churches during the 1960s through the 1980s, according to the Hurley, McKenna & Mertz law firm, which represented the victims.

Former School Police Officer Hired To Protect Students Raped 22 Boys Instead — Former Pittsburgh school police officer Robert Lellock has been arrested and charged with raping 22 male students he was hired to protect. A federal lawsuit notes that school officials should have known about the abuse, as Lellock was frequently taking boys out of the classroom to rape them in a janitor’s closet.

The hidden epidemic of male rape victims — April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but the public discourse surrounding this controversial issue focuses exclusively on one gender. Unfortunately, there is a perception that rape is purely a gendered phenomenon and that it is rare for men to be sexually assaulted, particularly by women. When we look at the data, though, these assumptions are exposed as inherently flawed. Continue reading

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Ayaan to Liberals: Get Your Priorities Straight — Few figures on the intellectual scene today are as controversial or as compelling as Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A Somali-born author, speaker, activist, and former politician, Ali, 45, became a hijab-wearing radical Islamist as a teenager in Kenya, then a liberal atheist as an immigrant in the Netherlands; the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001 led her to a final break with faith.

B.C. teacher suing over ‘unimaginable hardship’ after false accusations of rape, torture — A Vancouver Island teacher falsely accused of sexual assault and torture by a Grade 9 student — accusations that were later shown to be ripped off from TV episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — is seeking compensation for more than two years of “unimaginable hardship.” In an arbitration hearing last year, the student described a series of sadistic rapes that left her beaten and bloody, as well as torture, including waterboarding and being buried alive.

Binghamton woman accused of sexual abuse of infant — A Binghamton woman is accused of sexually abusing an infant boy and producing child pornography. Thirty-four year-old Latasha Mitchell was charged in federal court recently after a complaint was made on the New York child abuse hotline. She was arrested by Binghamton Police in February for allegedly committing a criminal sexual act in connection with the child abuse. Continue reading

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Are boy and girl sexual abuse victims viewed the same? — Police say it happened inside a bedroom, just down the hall from his parent’s room. A 32-year-old allowed a kid and his 6 friends, between the age of 11 and 15-years-old, to fondle, lick and touch the 32-year-old’s private area. The adult is also alleged to have had oral sex with the 15-year-old. The suspect faces 21 felonies including sexual abuse, sexual conduct with a minor and indecent exposure.

B.C. judge dismisses sexual abuse lawsuit against John Furlong — A B.C. Supreme Court judge has dismissed a third sexual abuse lawsuit against former Olympics CEO John Furlong. The decision ends a series of civil actions brought against Furlong related to his time as a teacher at a Roman Catholic school in northern B.C. Judge Elliott Myers also awarded special costs to Furlong, calling the behaviour of the plaintiff egregious, reprehensible and deserving of a rebuke.

Council briefs: Burnaby proclaims Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month — The City of Burnaby is acknowledging victims of boyhood sexual exploitation and abuse this month. Coun. Nick Volkow read a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Derek Corrigan, declaring April Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month at Monday night’s meeting. “The problem of child sexual abuse persists in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance and the problem of boyhood sexual exploitation is often overlooked, neglected and poorly understood,” the proclamation stated. Continue reading

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5 Reasons Why Feminists Don’t Say Much About The Horrors Of Prison Rape — We’ve heard a lot about rape culture on college campuses and seen quite a few highly determined domestic violence and sexual assault advocates fighting on behalf of those who are affected. But it’s hard not to conclude that much of their dismay toward the culture of rape and violence possesses a degree of gender bias that should concern us all. One thing that is consistently off the radar screen is the issue of prison rape.

Bullfinch: Board’s error as abuse review saw 50 boys counted as girls — BOYS at risk of being targeted for sex by gangs of men in Oxfordshire are being forgotten, say support workers. A Serious Case Review into child sexual exploitation (CSE) case Operation Bullfinch, published earlier this month, identified 373 child victims who may have been sexually exploited across the county. The report said they were all girls but it has now transpired nearly 50 of them were boys.

Comics Like Batgirl Shouldn’t Require a ‘Good Feminist’ Seal of Approval — A backlash against a Batgirl comic book cover some perceived as sexually violent has caused the cover to be withdrawn — leading to a backlash against perceived censorship. Sexism in popular culture is a valid concern. But when feminist criticism becomes an outrage machine that chills creative expression, it’s bad for feminism and bad for female representation. Continue reading

The so-called victimless crime

The Washington Post ran an article in December titled No matter what Jackie said, we should automatically believe rape claims. Zerlina Maxwell penned the article following the fallout from media coverage of the University of Virginia fraternity rape case, specifically the revelation that the accuser’s story had many factual problems.

Maxwell, prompted by the numerous claims of false accusations in the U-VA case, wrote that a false accusation is not that bad for the accused:

The accused would have a rough period. He might be suspended from his job; friends might de-friend him on Facebook. In the case of Bill Cosby, we might have to stop watching, consuming his books, or buying tickets to his traveling stand-up routine. These errors can be undone by an investigation that clears the accused, especially if it is done quickly.

She should tell that to Kirk Odom. As the Washington Post reported:

When he was first sent to the federal prison in Lorton, Va., for a crime he did not commit, Kirk Odom was warned never to tell other inmates about his rape conviction. If he did, the information could make him prey to inmates seeking vengeance.

It was 1982 when a fellow inmate walked up to him and whispered, “I know what you did,” Odom recalled. Two days later, Odom was raped in his cell. It would be the first of more than a half-dozen sexual assaults Odom would endure during two decades in prison.

Some 15 years later, Odom took an HIV test. It was negative. Months later, a fellow inmate again sexually assaulted Odom. After that attack, he took another HIV test. This time, it was positive. “I was devastated,” Odom testified Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court.

Over two days on the witness stand, Odom has been recounting his time in prison, his sexual assaults, his suicide attempts, his depression and his estranged family relations; all of that is attributed, he says, to his false imprisonment for a 1981 armed robbery, burglary and rape conviction. He is suing the District for emotional and physical pain and distress from his time at the Lorton prison.

Yet according to Maxwell this can be “undone by an investigation that clears the accused, especially if it is done quickly.” How can the District of Columbia undo the rapes, the HIV infection, the suicide attempts, the depression, and the torn family relations? Odom certainly does not consider this an easy fix: Continue reading