Imprisoning men in violence: Masculinity and sexual abuse: a view from South African prisons

  • S Gear


This article explores sexual violence in male prisons in South Africa. It focuses on the social meanings and identities that surround sexual violence, particularly the ideas of manhood that shape both the perpetration of sexual abuses and how it is dealt with – or not. The dominant inmate culture endorses prison rape and long-term relationships of sexual abuse, largely through legitimising violence and through replicating societal notions of gender and sexuality. The Department of Correctional Services and its staff have so far failed to meaningfully engage with the problem of sexual violence in prisons, or to provide adequate support for victims. There are indications that the department may be beginning to address the problem, but past attempts to get the issue of sexual violence recognised, provide cautions as to how this should be done. Specifically, there is a need to ensure that damaging and brutal notions of masculinity are challenged rather than accentuated in the process of addressing the problem.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1991-3877