Conjugal Visits – An Objective View

In an article published in the Landbou Weekblad 11 years ago, the issue of conjugal rights for prisoners was brought into the spotlight. The following is an article published in the Zonderwater Bulletin in 1998 in response to the article. 11 years later nothing has changed.

“… The bottom line of the (Landbou) article suggested that to allow prisoners to have sex with their spouses (husbands & wives) would defeat the purpose for which they are imprisoned. This raises a real question of: What is the real purpose for sending an offender to prison? How does the time they serve benefit society, if at all? It is often said that criminals are sent to prison as punishment and not for punishment. The loss of freedom is the punishment when a prison sentence is imposed.

Ultimately, the desired effect (of the incarceration system) would be that prisoners return to society as contributors and not as liabilities. Therefore, the purpose for which criminals are imprisoned is for rehabilitation (creating a new reality) and preparation; to rehabilitate them from their ant-social behaviour and to prepare them for their return to the social stream. The system in which they are incarcerated should be conducive to this aim.

Returning to the issue of conjugal rights/visits, it is, indeed, by its very nature, a most sensitive issue. To merely dismiss it on the grounds that it would defeat the purpose of incarceration is therefore rather shallow at best and downright ignorant at worst. There are both advantages and disadvantages to allowing or not allowing conjugal rights for prisoners. These must be looked at from various perspectives and always with an open mind.

For arguments sake, let us not look at it as a question of whether a prisoner should be entitled to sex, but rather, should the innocent partner be denied the right to have sex with with his/her partner? Did the author of the Landbou Weekblad article consider the predicament of a Christian wife who is sincerely bound by her vows? Should she be forced into long periods of sexual inactivity? Prisoners rights are certainly subject to certain limitations given the physical realities of imprisonment. But how far can those limitations be allowed to infringe on the rights of law abiding citizens? Does South Africa have a system which falls within the guidelines of our constitution? (Entering the year 2010 that remains doubtful.)

Other aspects to consider are the implications on security, the increased risk of escapes, drug smuggling (but this is why the government employs security staff) and the very important issue of funding appropriately dignified quarters on a limited budget.  On the other hand, allowing “private time” could help to alleviate stress in both partners and would probably result in the decrease of homosexuality  and homosexual rape within the prison context. It may also help to reduce the very real possibility of released male offenders who are sexually frustrated from seeking sexual gratification by any means upon their release. It is certainly not uncommon that some might take this by force.

More importantly, allowing conjugal visitation for inmates would help to sustain the flow of family relationships and security for those where there is a need.

It is clear that there is much to be considered before expressing unqualified comment and opinion concerning this issue.


About Crime Speaker
I believe that with every experience gained, whether yours or belonging to another, good or bad, these are there to be used toward the betterment of others and the world at large. They are there to be shared. No matter how small they make us appear, our realities are powerful instruments of change. As long as it's based on acceptance and responsibility for the truth.

6 Responses to Conjugal Visits – An Objective View

  1. Me says:

    Government needs to re-think the rules around conjugal visit…how about we start a petition?

      • Hi Me. There’s much to be considered as mentioned in the post above. Conjugal visitation, while an aspect which needs to be considered if only from the perspective of keeping the family backbone in tact, it is certainly not something I would petition at this time.

        I think society first needs to accept the idea that the “lock them up and throw the key away” attitude is actually doing society more harm than good. If there was anyone I would petition, it would be society itself … about attitude and emotional thinking and constructive and creative thought which strives for effective solutions rather than the emotionally corrupt ideas we entertain.

  2. Madame says:

    I am a partner to an offender and always question the sexual orientation of my husband as he has been away from me for so long.I am very suspicious of any weird homosexual behaviour when visiting him,but obviously it would just be exaggerated by jealousy.Really,conjugal visits should be considered a LOT.

    • Contrary to popular belief, partaking in homosexuality is and can be a choice to any man in there with a backbone. However, it is rife where youngsters, undeveloped and immature young men are placed among long timers within a gangster the gangster environment. Most sexual activity in prison is manipulated through specific gangs (the 28’s). many young guys join these guys for protection and find themselves being wives within the gang.

  3. Blanche says:

    Hi I seriously pleed that the South African government grant conjugal visitation so that husbands or wifes stay loyal and faithful to their spouses. We all have sexual needs and desires and we become lonely in the absence of our spouses. This is then also a way to value family life so that the devorce rate and immoral sexual state of this country can decrease.

    • Hey Blanche. The system ensures that when a crime takes place even those who are innocent are affected through the incarceration system. Obviously, this mainly affects women who have to take up the responsibilities of the removed partner. Our prison system is paranoid and military. As such it has no chance of using the system itself to solve those legacies of the past everyone is screaming about. It also has no chance of making a contribution toward social cohesion, the restoration of family life (which it destroys through process). I have every different views on the prison system and how it can be utilised. I abused the system for years. I tried to conform to it for years. Did I fail by being a recidivist? Or did the system fail you? Women in this country are not only under attack by criminals and men with little understanding, but also by those systems and social structures which are there to combat this and educate the ignorant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: