Prison rape

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Looking across different US government survey sources, for a given year male adult and youth inmates are estimated to suffer several times more incidents of sexual victimizations than incarcerated females. Male and female inmates are not included in most national surveys of sexual victimization.[1][2]

Prison rape or jail rape is rape occurring in prison. The phrase has come into common usage to refer to rape of inmates by other inmates, and less commonly to the rape of inmates by staff, and even less commonly rape of staff by inmates.

The overwhelming majority of cases are men who are raped by other men.[1][2]

In some jurisdictions, sexual contact with inmates by prison staff is illegal regardless of consent.[3]

United States[edit]

Public awareness of common prison rape is a relatively recent development and estimates of its prevalence have varied widely for decades. In 1974, Carl Weiss and David James Friar wrote that 46 million Americans would one day be incarcerated; of that number, they held that 10 million would be raped.[4]

A United States Department of Justice report, Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, states that "In 2011–12, an estimated 5.0% of state and federal prison inmates and 3.2% of jail inmates reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another inmate or facility staff in the past 12 months or since admission to the facility, if less than 12 months."[5] However, advocates dispute the accuracy of the numbers, saying they seem to under-report the real numbers of sexual assaults in prison, especially among juveniles.[6]

A 1992 estimate from the Federal Bureau of Prisons conjectured that between 9 and 20 percent of inmates had been sexually assaulted.[4] Studies in 1982 and 1996 concluded that the rate was somewhere between 12 and 14 percent. A 1986 study by Daniel Lockwood put the number at around 23 percent[4] for maximum security prisons in New York. In contrast, Christine Saum's 1994 survey of 101 inmates showed 5 had been sexually assaulted.[4]

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 was the first United States federal law passed specifically dealing with the sexual assault of prisoners. The bill was signed into law on September 4, 2003.[7]


Sexual violence against political prisoners is prevalent in Iran.[8] It is allegedly ignored or even facilitated by authorities.[9]

Reports issued to the United Nations allege that rape has been used by interrogators in Iran for decades.[10] During the 1980s, following the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the rape of female political prisoners was so prevalent that it prompted Hussein-Ali Montazeri, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini's then-deputy, to write the following to Khomeini in a letter dated 7 October 1986: "Did you know that young women are raped in some of the prisons of the Islamic Republic?"[11] Two prominent members of Iran's human rights community, the feminist lawyer and journalist Shadi Sadr and the blogger and activist Mojtaba Saminejad published essays online from inside Iran saying prison rape has a long history in the Islamic Republic.[11]

In the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests, opposition groups reported thousands were arrested and tortured in prisons around the country, with former inmates alleging mass rape of men, women and children by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, in prisons such as Kahrizak and Evin.[12][13]

Following the 2009 presidential election, Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi said several protesters held behind bars in Evin Prison had been savagely raped, according to a confidential letter to former president and cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.[14] Karroubi said this was a "fragment" of the evidence he had and that if the denials did not stop, he would release even more.[15][16]

On August 9, 2009, in a letter to the Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran, Mehdi Karroubi demanded investigation of Iranian prisons for possible torture and, in particular, sexual harassment of men and women.[17][18] On August 19, he wrote to parliament speaker Ali Larijani, asking to meet with him, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the state prosecutor to "personally present my documents and evidence over the cases of sexual abuse in some prisons specially Kahrizak."[19] Ali Larijani and Sadeq Larijani (Judiciary committee) both officially rejected his claims and Ali Khamenei's representatives, and Vice Chairman of National Security Commission of the parliament demanded Karroubi's arrest.[20][citation needed]


Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both released reports of widespread rape and abuse of prisoners in Turkey spanning multiple decades.[21][22] Kurdish prisoners have also been specifically targeted for rape and other forms of sexual violence.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rosin, Hanna (April 29, 2014). "When Men Are Raped". Slate. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Stemple, Lara; Meyer, Ilan H. (June 2014). "The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions". American Journal of Public Health. 104 (6): e24. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.301946. PMC 4062022. PMID 24825225.
  3. ^ Santi, Alysia. "Preying on Prisoners: When Texas Guards Demand Sex". The Texas Tribune. Published June 17, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Peek, Christine (2003). "Breaking Out of the Prison Hierarchy: Transgendered Prisoners, Rape, and the Eighth Amendment" (PDF). Santa Clara Law Review. Santa Clara University School of Law. 44 (Entire Paragraph citation): 1211–48. ISSN 0146-0315. OCLC 2842601. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  5. ^ Beck, Allen J.; et al. (2013). "Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates" (PDF). US Department of Justice. p. 6. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  6. ^ Swift, James (2013). "Advocates Dispute Agency Finding on Sex Abuse of Juvenile Inmates". Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. p. [1]. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  7. ^ Smith, Brenda V. (Spring 2008). "The Prison Rape Elimination Act: Implementation and Unresolved Issues". Criminal Law Brief. Washington College of Law (WCL Research Paper No. 2008–49). OCLC 63521701. SSRN 1129810.
  8. ^ Ehsan Zarrokh (Ehsan and Gaeini, M. Rahman). "Iranian Legal System and Human Rights Protection" The Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World e-journal, New York law school 3.2 (2009).
  9. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali. "Iran giving out condoms for criminals to rape us, say jailed activists". Published June 24, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  10. ^ "New Prison-Rape Allegations In Iran Bring Practice To Light". Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b Mackey, Robert (28 August 2009). "Iranians Say Prison Rape Is Not New". The Lede.
  12. ^ Saeed Kamali Dehghan (24 June 2011). "Iran giving out condoms for criminals to rape us, say jailed activists". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  13. ^ "Protesters savagely raped in jail: Iran's Karroubi". 2009-08-10.
  14. ^ "Protest prison chief jailed in alleged rape, abuse scandal". Archived from the original on 2010-04-29.
  15. ^ Slackman, Michael (24 August 2009). "Reformer in Iran Publishes Account of a Prison Rape". New York Times.
  16. ^ "Shame On Iran". New York Times. 27 August 2009.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-08-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Iran and human rights: The crackdown
  19. ^ "Iran reformer says he wants to present rape evidence". Reuters. 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
  20. ^ dead link
  21. ^ "TECHNIQUES OF ABUSE". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  22. ^ Hughes, Chris (July 24, 2016). "Thousands of Turkey coup prisoners 'raped, starved and hogtied'". Daily Mirror. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  23. ^ Duzgun, Meral (June 10, 2013). "Turkey: a history of sexual violence". The Guardian. Retrieved May 22, 2018.

External links[edit]