By Victor Ochieng
The case of Daniel Holtzclaw is currently ongoing, and he’s expected to be sentenced in not more than two weeks. Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City Police Officer, is accused of having sexually assaulted seven Black women and a Black child.
This is just one case among several others that take place in our prisons, a number of which haven’t been discovered by the authorities.
The talk about rape has been ongoing, and efforts have been made by the government to help curb the vice. But it appears like rape in prison hasn’t attained similar attention, which is quite worrying, knowing that our prisons are a place where such acts have been rampant for years, with some being perpetrated by prison officials.
Without a doubt, many Black men and women have fallen victims of rape behind bars.
Rape culture, is a culture that has led to systemic blame of rape victims and the encouragement of rape. The culture is bred by a number of factors, including misogyny, abusive power, and homophobia. It’s a culture that’s entrenched in prisons across the nation, and if not addressed when talking about rape in general, is likely to lead to further devaluation of human bodies.
In the prison, there are those who sell the bodies of other inmates. They normally operate as gangs, targeting weaker inmates and trading them for trivial things such a cigarettes or food. It appears like no one cares about rape; they see it and don’t do anything about it.
Reports reveal that over 200,000 men are s*xually abused in prison per year, according to Stop Prisoner Rape. Of course rape is generally unacceptable, but people are beginning to question why rape behind bars is widely ignored.
So, why is it being ignored? Could it be a systematic way to cause damage to a group that’s disproportionately represented in the prison cells?
For most Black men, being raped never crosses their minds, but what most Black men fear is the police. It isn’t because they’re more inclined to commit crime, but there is a systemic move to mass incarcerate them. What they never know is what awaits them behind the prison walls.
The New York Times recently reported that up to 1.5 million Black men are missing in action on the streets or at home, simply because they’ve been piled up behind bars through racial tactics. Many such men end up being raped.
What’s also painful is that the understanding of masculinity makes it almost impossible for male rape victims to report their cases. They feel that it compromises their masculinity, and as such, some go with their stories to their graves.
Unknown to them, their silence further promotes rape culture and opens the door for victimization of others thus serving the interest of racial bigots that are hell bent on entrenching and prolonging power and control over the Black population.
The damage is serious. It’s high time activists came forward and aggressively talked about addressing the issue of rape in prisons.