25/08/2011 DIRCO DDG,Clayson Monyela answers media questions in relation to the outcomes of the post-cabinet meeting. Picture: Phill Magakoe

 Human rights advocates have slammed Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Clayson Monyela for saying that the boys and men who gang-raped a 17-year-old mentally disabled girl last month should be raped in prison.

Just Detention International (JDI) said in a statement that “When government officials promote prisoner rape, nobody is safe. Clayson Monyela is quoted as saying that he hopes the perpetrators will ‘find like-minded monsters in jail to give them a taste of their own medicine’,” said JDI, based in SA and the US. It seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention.

Monyela said on Wednesday he had already retracted his remark.

“On the day the story broke I tweeted that I shall be praying for them to get a taste of their own medicine. “I didn't call for that. I said I prayed for it. But then I realized that was a bit over the top and retracted the remark.”

Lovisa Stannow, JDI’s executive director, said that Monyela’s remarks were horrifying. “It is irresponsible for anyone to claim that the proper response to one brutal crime is another brutal crime.

“When a government official makes that statement, it puts people’s lives at risk.”

Sasha Gear, a programme director at JDI’s Joburg office, said that, unfortunately, we know such attacks were common.

“But they are not so different from the rape of people behind bars. Sexual violence is fuelled by hyper-masculine attitudes that connect manhood to the abuse of people who appear vulnerable. Calling for the perpetrators in this case to be raped is not a call for justice. Rather, it will lead only to more sexual violence.”

According to a government study, 7 percent of inmates in SA reported being subjected to unwanted sexual attention; nearly half of all inmates reported sexual abuse in prison happens “sometimes”, “often”, or “very often”. Prisoner rape has fuelled the spread of HIV/Aids.

JDI collaborates with advocacy groups, corrections officials, and government agencies to end sexual abuse in SA’s prisons. - Cape Argus