Michael Carter, writes for Aidsmap ( January 31, 2007)
Condoms in Australian prisons don't lead to 'rape and mayhem'
In a study published in the online edition of Sexually Transmitted Infections, researchers from New South Wales established that there was in fact a fall in the reported incidence of both consensual and non-consensual sex between male prisoners after condoms were made available to inmates, and that condom and dental dam misuse was generally benign.
Condoms are highly effective at preventing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, but few prison services make them available to inmates. Following legal advice the New South Wales prison service started providing condoms to male prisoners and dental dams to female inmates in 1996. Concerns were that this would lead to an increase in both consensual and non-consensual sex between inmates. There were also worries that condoms would be used to smuggle or store contraband such as drugs, or that they would be used as weapons against prison staff.
To establish the consequence of condoms and dental dam provision, investigators from
Opposition to the provision of condoms/dental dams from might have been expected prison staff but there were also obejections by inmates. Some feared condoms would increase the number of sexual assaults and a small proportion of male prisoners feared that access to condoms would give the impression that prisoners were homosexual.
Fear about the provision of condoms/dental dams leading to more consensual and non-consensual sex were not realised. In fact, there was a fall in the percentage of men reporting both consensual and non-consensual sex with other inmates. There was no significant change for women.
Condom kits and dental dams were misused, but that this abuse was generally benign. Condoms were sometimes used as waterbombs, and the bags which condoms and dental dams were supplied in were used to store tobacco. Lubricant was used as hair gel, or, when banana and strawberry flavours were available, as a mild flavouring. The investigators also found that some women reported using dental dams as placemats or doilies.
There were only three instances where condoms were used as weapons. One incident involved a shampoo-filled condom being thrown at a prison officer, and in the other two instances, condoms which contained a substance resembling semen were thrown at prison officers.
We were wondering if the Washington State Department of Corections were aware of this study?
Do condoms cause rape and mayhem? The long-term effects of condoms in
Yap L et al
Sexually Transmitted Infections. Published Online First: 19 December 2006.