This following paper analyses data from a previous study of ex-prisoners and prisoners in Gauteng Province, South Africa, to consider the moral economy established by hegemonic inmate culture in which sexual interactions are negotiated. It argues that while this system is based on outside norms of heterosexism, ruptures with these norms occur. Male prison populations are rearranged into gendered categories through intricate inmate rituals, causing dramatic breaks in the ways that some prisoners are understood by others and themselves.
Sasha Gear is a former CSVR Senior Researcher. She is Co-Director of the South African branch of Just Detention International. Sasha works closely with the South African Department of Correctional Services and civil society groups to address sexual abuse in detention and the associated health risks.