Correctional officials perceptions on male sexual assault in Westville Correctional Centre: an exploratory study.
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In correctional centres different types of sexual interactions and relationships occur between male offenders, most of these sexual interactions are commonly abusive, exploitative, and involves various degrees of coercion. Unlike males in the general community, literature show that males in correctional centres are disproportionately vulnerable to male sexual assault. Male offenders’ vulnerability to sexual assault is exacerbated by various factors including overcrowding, gang activity and lack of supervision. Correctional officials play a major role in the daily lives of offenders; significantly they influence the structure, culture, activities in correctional centres and are responsible for the safeguarding of offenders against offences such as male sexual assault. Nevertheless, correctional officials who hold negative perceptions /attitudes towards male sexual assault fail to effectively respond and manage incidents of sexual assault in the correctional centre. The focus of this study was on the perceptions of correctional officials on sexual assault amongst the male offenders in Westville Correctional Centre. The following were the objectives of the study: To explore awareness of male sexual assault between offenders among correctional officials in Durban, Westville Correctional Centre, South Africa; to explore the perceptions of correctional officials towards male sexual assault between male offenders in Westville Correctional Centre; to identify the current strategies that are in place to address male sexual assault in Westville Correctional Centre. The study employed a qualitative research approach to explore and describe the perceptions of officials, data was obtained through semi- structured interviews. The data was collected from a sample of 8 correctional officials from medium A- D, by using a purposive sampling technique. The collected data were transcribed and analysed through thematic analysis, which was used to develop themes that emerged. The findings depicted that correctional officials from Westville Correctional Centre are aware of the occurrence of male sexual assault in their respective mediums through reported cases. The study also found correctional officials view that in correctional centres it is possible for a male to be sexually assaulted and even though the correctional centres can implement strategies to curb male sexual assault, male offenders will always find an opportunity to commit this sexual offence.