Trigger warning for rape.
A millionaire accused of murder in South Africa who was arrested in the UK is arguing that he shouldn't be extradited because he will certainly be raped in prison and has a good chance of contracting HIV. The high-profile case involves the theory by South African prosecutors that the suspect, Shrien Dewani, was going to be forced to marry a woman and that he was in fact gay, so he hired someone to kill her. He argues that reports that he's gay, which he denies, will make him a target in South African prisons. European law forbids extraditing prisoners to countries where they will face inhumane treatment.
South Africa prison experts Sasha Gear and Amanda Dissel, both formerly of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, testified by video link-up from South Africa that Dewani would be especially vulnerable to rape in prison.[....]
Gear told the court that Dewani, 31, was at risk of a sexual attack in prison because he was young, good-looking, "well-preserved", a first-time offender unfamiliar with gang or inmate slang and culture, and because he had been identified in media reports as homosexual.
Rape "by Aids-infected gangsters" would turn whatever prison sentence he got into "an almost certain death sentence", his British advocate, Clare Montgomery QC, told the court
Dewani's attorneys pointed to an anti-drunk-driving ad (not available on YouTube) that was approved by the Ministry of Transport that made light of prison rape as evidence of the government's acceptance of rape as as institutional punishment:
The locally-produced television advertisement imitates lonely hearts film clips, with burly and dishevelled men telling viewers: "I'm looking for a special person", "someone who can handle heavy situations with a smile". But the campaign has been attacked for making light of the country's problem with sexual violence.
One advert promises: "These hands will never let you go," before the camera pans out to reveal a prison cell crowded with inmates sprawled on beds and mattresses. The text on screen reveals: "They'd love to meet you. Never drink and drive."
The US isn't better when it comes to prison rape. Here's an ad from the US:
America doesn't care much either.
I don't know the ins and outs of Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, but my guess is that instituting rape as a form of punishment would violate it. But that's effectively what we've come to, in apparently more countries than just the US, where everyone knows what goes on in prison but people joke about it since most people won't have to be the victim of it.
Prison is definitely a class issue in the US and many voters and most major campaign donors have never been to prison and don't know anyone who's been to a medium or maximum security prison. Add to that the states that take away the right to vote even from convicted felons who have served their time, and politicians don't have much motivation to improve the quality of prisons (other than to reduce recidivism, but then recidivism is profitable enough to keep it going).
The rule against extraditing prisoners to countries that violate human rights of prisoners was made famous by the case of Julian Assange, who argued in the UK that he shouldn't be extradited to Sweden because Sweden may extradite him to the US, a country well-known for disappearances, indefinite detention without charges, and torture. Appeals are still pending in his case, but perhaps European law is the only way to raise awareness about these human rights violations in other countries.
Because as the situation currently stands, people accept prison rape as just another punishment that people who have already done something wrong should have expected. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time, amirite?
While Dewani should face justice if he really did do what he's accused of, he has not been convicted of anything and no one deserves to be raped. And I think more people that it would appear agree with those statements, and the apparent consensus that rape is just a peachy way to punish people for anything from drunk driving to murder is really just demonstrative of our collective ability to not care about cruelty when it's neither in our face nor being mobilized against.
1st img via, 2nd img via