Academic says prisoners should be allowed to have sex

Prison inmates should be allowed to have sex with their wives or husbands twice a year, according to the author of an academic study into sex in Thai prisons.

Authorities conuct a search of a man at Chumphon Prison. (Photo by Amnart Thongdee)

Siriwan Kraisurapong, a lecturer at Mahidol University's Faculty of Social Sciences, said researchers have carried out five studies into sex in Thai prisons since 2010, all of which indicate that 'prohibited' sexual activity is commonplace in both female and male prisons across the country.

"Many inmates engage in sexual activities in exchange for money, sexual fulfilment or security," Ms Siriwan said. "They may also want to temporarily break away from rules and regulations, or just want to relieve the emotional distress of being confined."

Inmates may participate in oral or anal sex or use objects for sexual gratification, she added.

The academic said studies had found that dominant members in prison gangs have special tattoos to identify the fact that they take their pick of inmates. Their chosen partners are often physically weaker and forced into taking part in sexual acts against their will, she said.

Ms Siriwan said research indicates that female inmates tend to create prison "families", where one member takes the "husband" role and another plays the "wife". The "husbands" cut their hair short and wear binders to flatten their chests, while the "wives" take care of their partners and express jealousy, she said.

"The inmates may be straight but want to be happy whilst they're doing time. They also know that these things only happen within their cells and that society is not aware of what's going on," Ms Siriwan said.

According to studies conducted in foreign countries, some prison guards and wardens are known to sexually exploit inmates. No studies into the issue have been carried out in Thailand but it is likely that such incidents occur in Thai prisons, the academic said.

"Thailand still has no clear policy on the sexual activity of inmates and the authorities have made no real effort to intervene. This could easily lead to sexual violence in prisons," she said.

She added that relevant agencies must be more aware of inmates' sexual orientations and educate prisoners about disease prevention, since they are considered a high risk group for contracting HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis.

"We should not see having sex in prison as wrong when it actually helps ease inmates' stress. But it is important that both sides mutually agree and that they're not forced," she said.

"Inmates in foreign countries can ask for condoms. Another thing that has never happened in Thailand is to allow inmates to stay with their partners, maybe for two days a year.

"Sex is natural but inmates have all their rights taken away. Try to imagine what it's like for those who are sentenced to 20 yearsin prison and no longer have this right."

Related search: Thailand, prison, sex, inmate, Siriwan Kraisurapong, Mahidol University

About the author

columnist
Writer: Online Reporters
Position: Online Reporters