A Zimbabwe senator has reportedly suggested that prisoners can go without food and clothes but the pressing issue of their sexual desires must be met, saying that other countries have given prisoners ‘sex gadgets’ and that this should help stop the spread of homosexuality once prisoners are released.
This idea came from Matobo Senator Sithembile Mlotshwa (MDC-T) during a parliamentary committee meeting on Gender and Development on Monday, March 12.
Mutoko Senator Jacob Edmond (Zanu-PF) was the acting chairperson of the committee.
“Considering that some of the same-sex orientation (homosexuality) come from prisons and when those people are out they then spread that orientation, what measures are you putting in place to make sure that vice is stopped?”
Mlotshwa asked Acting Secretary for Justice and Legal Affairs Mr Maxwell Ranga.
“In other countries they provide sex gadgets and they have also constructed rooms where people go and service themselves when the desire arises.”
On whether Zimbabwe could create something of this nature, Mr Ranga is reported to have replied that, given the struggle just to feed and clothe prisoners, providing them with “sex gadgets” was beyond the scope of their current resources. Ranga went on to say that he had even been unable to secure $20,000 in treasury funds to deal with a lice and bed-bug infestation in the country’s prisons.
Senator Mlotshwa is said to have responded:
“We can’t say we don’t have money to feed and clothe prisoners because people can stay without food, but they want their sexual desires to be satisfied whether you like it or not.
“We can’t ignore and say we don’t have money so we won’t provide those gadgets. As the ministry, are you crying out loud so that the issues can be addressed?”
Zimbabwe officials have been forced to give serious consideration on how to combat prisoners having sex because the country’s senior officials have made it explicitly clear that they will not allow prisoners to access condoms.
The country’s prisons have also come under scrutiny for numerous reported instances of human rights abuses. Malnutrition is a considerable problem, and violence that stems from these poor conditions has been well documented.
Zimbabwe criminalizes homosexuality under colonial laws banning “unlawful and intentional sexual relations per anum between two human males” as well as under provisions covering “unnatural offences” in addition to a “sexual deviancy” law.
The Mugabe administration has been outspoken in its dislike of LGBTs, with Robert Mugabe now infamously quoted as saying:
“It degrades human dignity. It’s unnatural, and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs. If dogs and pigs do not do it, why must human beings? … What we are being persuaded to accept is sub-animal behavior and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as Lesbians and Gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police!”
Senator Sithembile Mlotshwa also stirred controversy last July when she proposed that in order to curb the spread of HIV, men in the country should be administered with a drug to limit their sex drive to one day a month.