By Jorge Joaquim
Inmates at Maputo’s women’s prison are being sold for sex by prison guards, an investigation by the transparency NGO CIP has found.
Using hidden cameras and posing as clients, CIP researchers paid for meetings with women who testified that they were regularly taken out of the prison to have sex with clients — or beaten up by guards if they refused.
During the day, the women serving sentences in this prison undertake various activities, including training in courses such as dressmaking, breeding chickens and food cultivation. At night, they are prostitutes.
“Little doves”, “bunnies” are some of the terms used by the prison guards to refer to the female prisoners during interaction with the clients. Guards charged CIP researchers MZN15,000 ($240) for two hours with an inmate.
Normally the prisoners are taken out on the days when the guard with whom the deal was negotiated is on duty at the prison. Generally, the inmates are taken out at the weekends and on public holidays. But in some cases, they are taken out in the middle of the week. The day is chosen largely in accordance with the availability of both the guard and of the client. The inmate is treated merely as merchandise. Even in the middle of the week, a way is arranged to take the inmates out
According to CIP, there are inmates who leave 3 or 4 times a week to have sexual relations with people they say they do not know.
Reports say that the sexual exploitation of inmates is a phenomenon that has been happening for many years in the Maputo Women’s Special Prison and has remained hidden from the government authorities and from the organisations that defend human rights and the rights of prisoners.
The guards, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the prisoners and of the power they possess, push them into the world of prostitution in exchange for money. In addition, the inmates are sexually harassed and abused by the guards.