n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The prevalence of consensual sex in South African male correctional centres

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Once individuals have been convicted and sentenced in a criminal court they may be referred to correctional centres to serve their terms of imprisonment. Upon entering a correctional centre, offenders become assimilated into an inmate subculture in which they adapt to the unique demands of the correctional centre and have to sacrifice certain rights (e.g. freedom, possessions, heterosexual relationships, etc.). The inmate subculture also tends to create opportunities for deviant sexual behaviour such as homosexual or lesbian activities, male or female prostitution and gang rape. In correctional centres consensual sex is practiced secretly between two consenting parties as opposed to forced (non-consensual) sexual assault or rape. One of the reasons for deviant sexual behaviour by inmates may the protracted separation between married inmates which may also be blamed for the breakdown in personal relationships. This research study is exploratory and descriptive and focuses on the perceptions and opinions of correctional officers pertaining to consensual sex in correctional centres. The Ncome Correctional Management Area (NCMA) in KwaZulu-Natal, and more specifically, five correctional centres situated within it, has been arbitrarily selected as the areas of study. A 5-point Likert-type measuring scale was used to accommodate data forthcoming from a closed-structured questionnaire. The data indicates that the deregulation of consensual sex in corrections should be seriously considered, based on the assumption that sexual relationships are a human right. Consensual sex is being viewed as a sexual outlet capable of reducing rape in a correctional context. While deprivation of sexual relationships may cause emotional imbalances, it would appear that gay and lesbian rights are increasingly demanding recognition, irrespective of whether consensual sex compounds the HIV / Aids pandemic. Deregulation in terms of the formal code and creating viable avenues to make conjugal visits a reality, seems to be important future policy options.

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