Prison sexuality

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"Prison sex" redirects here. For the song by Tool, see Prison Sex.

Prison sexuality (or prison sex or penitentiary sex) deals with sexual relationships between confined individuals or those between a prisoner and a prison employee (or other persons to whom prisoners have access). Since most prisons are separated by gender, most sexual activity is conducted with a same-sex partner. Exceptions to this are sex with an employee of the opposite sex, as well as conjugal visits.

Prisoner-prisoner relationships[edit]

As of September 2013, condoms are available inside prisons in Canada, most of the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, and the US state of Vermont (on September 17, 2013, the Californian Senate approved a bill for condom distribution inside the state's prisons, but the bill was not yet law at the time of approval).[1] Consensual sexual relationships between women in UK prisons are described as "commonplace" by the Telegraph.[2][3]

According to a 2001 Human Rights Watch report "No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons", sexual slavery is frequently posed as a consensual sexual relationship inside prisons. Rape victims are often intimidated into feigning consent to sexual activity, to the point of becoming "slaves" and the figurative property of their rapists. HRW also stated that many studies report the prevalence of rape perpetrated by dark-skinned prisoners against light-skinned prisoners.[4]

Prospective slaveholders will sometimes use intimidating innuendo, as opposed to overt threats of violence, which the prospective slave unwillingly accepts, thereby disguising the coercive nature of the sexual activity from even the enslaver. Slaves might not even see themselves as being coerced, if the enslavement is negotiated as repayment for a debt. Also, some consider themselves transformed into a homosexual.[5] The HRW report contains an account in which an inmate is coerced in this way.[6] It is argued that in prison, consent is inherently illusory.

In many cases among men, the partner who penetrates another sexually is not regarded as homosexual among fellow inmates, and the receptive partner (who may or may not be consenting) is called a "woman", a "bitch", a "punk", or a "prag", and is regarded as homosexual, even when he is not.[citation needed]

Among men, the receptive partner may be protected by the dominant partner from rape and violence, and some physically weaker heterosexuals enter relationships for this reason. This practice of taking on a dominant partner to protect oneself from more forcible rape and violence is sometimes referred to as "protective pairing".[citation needed] Stephen Donaldson, founder of the organization now known as "Just Detention International", describes this process in his article "Hooking Up: Protective Pairing for Punks".[citation needed] Such men are said to be "riding with" their respective dominant partners. The same can be seen in female prisons, where an unwilling woman, who normally would not engage in sex with another woman, does so for the sake of protection.[citation needed]

Data indicates that almost all prison relationships, in both female and male prisons, consist of a dominant and submissive partners. However, there are variations of this scenario, obscured by the fact that self-described "heterosexual" prisoners who enter into sexual relationships with each other will frequently conceal the nature of their homosexual relationship from others. In prisons where cells are shared, this is known to occur. Homosexual and bisexual prisoners who describe themselves as heterosexual -- and who deny being homosexual or bisexual -- are known to sometimes begin sexual relations with each other when confined together for long periods of time.[citation needed]

Prisoner and other relationships[edit]

Around the world many prisons offer conjugal visits to the partners of inmates, in which prisoners are permitted to spend time in private rooms with their partners in a prison-facilitated environment. Conjugal visits are restricted to only inmates with good behaviour, and in some jurisdictions this is only permitted for married couples, while others allow domestic partners.

Relationships also occur between correctional staff and prisoners.[7] Prisoners and staff spend a great deal of time together, and much of the time the staff would be the only venue for sex with the opposite sex. This applies to security staff, teachers and counselors, medical workers, contractors and religious workers.

Government report in the UK found that female prisoners in England and Wales have been coerced into sex with staff in exchange for alcohol and cigarettes.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holly Richmond (18 September 2013). "Everybody wants condom vending machines". Grist Magazine. Grist Magazine, Inc. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Ava Vidal (26 Feb 2014). "Women prisoners: Sex in prison is commonplace, the male inmates just hide it more than girls". The Telegraph. 
  3. ^ Kate Johns (6 May 2013). "Many prison inmates are 'gay for the stay'". Independent Voices (Opinion). 
  4. ^ "No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons". Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch. 2001. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Body And Soul: The Physical And Psychological Injury Of Prison Rape: Psychological Impact". No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons. Human Rights Watch. 2001. 
  6. ^ "Rape scenarios". No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons. Human Rights Watch. 2001. 
  7. ^ Holland, Megan (April 11, 2007). "Ex-Hiland Mountain prison guard charged with having sex with inmate". Anchorage Daily News. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Women prisoners 'coerced into sex with staff'". BBC. 25 Feb 2014. 

Further reading[edit]