Title page for ETD etd-11042008-164328

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Shayi, Frank
Email icbm2000@telkomsa.net
URN etd-11042008-164328
Document Title Sexual practices in South African prisons from the perspective of Christian Ethics
Degree PhD
Department Dogmatics and Christian Ethics
Advisor Name Title
Prof D E de Villiers Supervisor
  • indecent sexual assault
  • prisoners’ rights
  • Department of Correctional Services
  • prison homosexual sex
  • unfair discrimination
  • ex-inmate
  • prison inmate
  • heterosexuality
  • homosexuality
  • human sexuality
Date 2008-09-04
Availability unrestricted

Sexual practices in prisons the world over are almost the same. Men incarcerated for many years in limited space with other men without the opportunity for normal heterosexual sexual outlet end up practicing homosexual sex. South African prisons are not an exception.

In this dissertation I tackled a number of issues from a Christian Ethics perspective, with a slant from the Evangelical wing of Christianity as this is my background. The few issues I investigated from a South African prison system are the following. Firstly the issue of homosexuality was looked at from an Evangelical perspective. The conclusion was that the practice of homosexuality is a sin just like any other sexual deviation from the God ordained sex within marriage.

Secondly empirical research was done to verify homosexual sex in prisons in South Africa. The results of this research confirmed that homosexual sex acts are a daily occurrence in our prisons. The results also showed that the aspect of indecent assault, forced or coerced homosexual sex acts now classified as “male rape,” was rife in prisons. Other factors related to this matter were that prison gangs and Correctional members’ complicity aggravated this issue of “male rape”.

Thirdly we looked at the policy of “no sex in prison” as set out by the Department of Correctional Services. A number of discrepancies were uncovered. Firstly, there is unfair discrimination in the treatment of heterosexuals and homosexuals in prisons. Whereas heterosexuals are legally barred from having sex with their spouses while in prison, homosexuals are having sex in prison with their partners. Although the DOCS insists on the policy of no sex in prison, they appear to be condoning it in that they provide free condoms to inmates. In accordance with the stipulation of the Bill of Rights regarding unfair discrimination, the DOCS should treat inmates equally. To make matters worse, the South African Government has sanctioned same sex unions but failed to put in place effective control measures in correctional service centres to ensure that the policy of no sex in prison is not undermined. The DOCS should look at either allowing heterosexuals to have conjugal visits or ensure that homosexuals are not put together in the same cell, so as to adhere to this policy.

Fourthly the issue punishment and rehabilitation was also investigated. This was done from a Christian ethical perspective. The Department of Correctional Services says that their objective is not to punishment but to rehabilitate. The discussion showed that putting convicted criminals in prison was a punishment on its own. It was further discussed that punishment is biblical, and that whilst punishment should be left to God, He in turn has put governments on earth as His servants to mete out punishment to those who deserve it. It was also discussed that rehabilitation does not happen automatically, that it needs a buy in by the individual concerned as seen from the examples of individuals cited in the thesis.

Lastly, the causes of such sexual behaviour in prison were investigated. Corrupt officials, overcrowding and inadequate food supply, among others, are matters to be rectified in dealing with this problem. Alternatives to jail sentences for minor offences are also strongly suggested so as to alleviate the problem of overcrowding.

© University of Pretoria 2008

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