I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but I’ve seen four different articles in the last week that all point to something that has always bothered me about all the talk of sexual assault victims and people dealing with mental health issues. It seems as though there is one group of people who we are more than happy to make rape jokes about, stigmatize, and refuse to have sympathy for, those who are in some kind of prison.
The Truth About Sexual Abuse Behind Bars
Female prison officers commit 90pc of sex assaults on male teens in US juvenile detention centres
This Case of Alleged Juvenile Sexual Abuse By Female Prison Officers Fits a Frightening Pattern
The Nightmare of Prison for Individuals With Mental Illness
People, adults and children, who get put in prison, for any reason, instantly become the “other” to many people. Since they are somehow not human any more, when we talk about survivors, or those with mental illness, we don’t include them. It’s as if it’s OK that a 15 year old kid in prison is forced to have sex with a guard because, well he’s male, and he’s a delinquent. No sympathy here.
There was a time when prison was considered a place to rehabilitate people who had gone awry of the legal system. The hope was that teaching them a work skill, or providing therapy, could lead to a change in their personality and they could rejoin society as a productive member. But that ideal has been completely lost over the years. Now, prison is all about punishing people, so if someone happens to get raped while in prison, that’s just great. If they get tortured instead of treated for mental illness, fantastic! If they’re just juveniles, well that will teach ’em to break the law!
We don’t say those sorts of things about any other victims of assault or mental illness. Just because someone is in prison, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same protections, and sympathies. People in prison are just as human as everyone else. Sure, they have done some things that don’t elicit sympathy, but I’ve know lots of survivors over the years who aren’t in prison, but don’t exactly come across as friendly, sympathetic, people either. We don’t treat them the same way we treat prisoners.
They have parents, families, friends, etc. who care about them, and they didn’t ask to be raped. If you can’t wrap your head around that, then maybe you aren’t as tolerant and sympathetic as you claim to be.