Sexual Assault in Prisons

"It is evident that certain prisoners are targeted for sexual assault the moment they enter a penal facility: their age, looks, sexual orientation, and other characteristics mark them as candidates for abuse. Human Rights Watch's research has revealed a broad range of factors that correlate with increased vulnerability to rape. These include youth, small size, and physical weakness; being white, gay, or a first offender; possessing 'feminine' characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or 'passive'; or having been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor. Prisoners with any one of these characteristics typically face an increased risk of sexual abuse, while prisoners with several overlapping characteristics are much more likely than other inmates to be targeted for abuse. Yet it would be a mistake to think that only a minority of extremely vulnerable individuals face sexual abuse. In the wrong circumstances, it should be emphasized, almost any prisoner may become a victim."

Source: 

Human Rights Watch, "No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons," (New York, NY: April 2001), p. 11.
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