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56 How. J. Crime & Just. 1 (2017)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj56 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard journal Vol 56 No 1. March 2017       DOI: 10.1111/hojo.12177
ISSN2059-1098, pp. 1-18




     Sex in Prisoner Power Relations:

Attitudes and Practices in a Ukrainian

        Correctional Colony for Men


                     ANTON SYMKOVYCH
    Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Sociology, University of
                     Johannesburg, South Africa


Abstract: Most research on prison sex has originated in the global West, often employing
quantitative methodology. Building on a semi-ethnographic study of a Ukrainian prison,
this article explores how prisoners and officers perceive prisoner sex. Rape was not reported
in this prison, despite the relatively young prison population. I argue that the informal
prisoner power structure of the prison underworld diminishes sexual abuse. Thus, contrary
to much of the literature, masculinity, homophobia, and informal prisoner hierarchies can
equally instigate and restrain prison violence and sexual victimisation.

Keywords:   prison sex; masculinity; sexual violence; prison culture;
homophobia; inmate code; Ukraine



Sex  among  male prisoners (henceforth prison sex) is often coercive and
expresses the domination of some  prisoners by others (Dumond  2000;
Tewksbury  and West 2000; Trammell 2011). Much of what we know about
prison sex stems from  research in the United States (US) and United
Kingdom   (Banbury  2004; Hensley, Struckman-Johnson  and  Eigenberg
2000; O'Donnell  2004; Tewksbury  and West  2000), with a few notable
exceptions (Booyens and Bezuidenhout  2014; Egelund 2014; Einat 2012,
2014; Gear  2005; Schifter 1999). Furthermore, because of restricted ac-
cess, a great deal of research on prison sex utilises secondary, aggre-
gated, or retrospective data. Using ethnographic data from a Ukrainian
medium-security prison for men, I argue that, contrary to much of the lit-
erature, masculinity, homophobia, and informal prisoner hierarchies can
both restrain and instigate violence and sexual exploitation. I demonstrate
how  power  relations in prison incorporate human sexuality and mimic
the social gender division, and how prisoner sociality reconciles virulent
homophobia   with sex among men.
   I begin by reviewing sex's role in men's prisons (hereafter prisons)
as a  substitute for heterosexual liaisons, a means of inter-prisoner

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0 2016 The Howard League and john Wiley & Sons Ltd
Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK

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