The Howard League’s Commission on Sex in Prisons reported in March this year. The Commission had been investigating a wide range of issues for over two years, including: consensual sex, maintaining family relationships while incarcerated, sexual abuse, the effect of incarceration on the sexual development of youngsters and sex within the women’s prison estate.
Avonbrook has played a key role in the Commission – CEO Michael Amherst was one of the commissioners, while Just Detention International, who received a grant from Avonbrook, provided evidence.
Avonbrook’s grant was given to fund work exploring the issue of sexual abuse within the UK prison estate. The work of the Commission was made harder, owing to lack of co-operation from the Ministry of Justice. However, the government was urged to take the problem of prison rape more seriously as figures suggested that hundreds of prisoners may have been sexually abused behind bars.
Data suggests that the frequency of sexual abuse in prison in England and Wales could be similar to that seen in the US.
Yet the issue is taken far more seriously in the States. Many officials refer to prison rape as a peculiarly US problem. The work of the Commission and evidence would suggest otherwise.
Avonbrook calls for proper, qualitative data on the issue and for the government to urgently address the problem.
A press release from the Howard League on coercive sex in UK prisons can be found here. While the full work of the Commission, including all the briefing papers, can be accessed from their website here.
Finally, amongst the press coverage secured by Just Detention International on the issue is this superb piece by Ally Fogg in the Guardian.