The Windhoek Correctional Facility says the constitution does not allow same-sex individuals to engage in sex, hence condoms cannot be distributed in correctional facilities.
“Same sex is still regarded as a crime in Namibia and if we distribute condoms it will be seen as if we are encouraging that. We want to maintain law and order,” said the officer in charge of the Windhoek Correctional Facility, Deputy Commissioner Victor Eichab.
His comments came in the light of Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku’s call for the distribution of condoms in prisons.
Haufiku, who made the call last Thursday, said that for Namibia to make strides in HIV/AIDS prevention and education, circumcision and the distribution of more condoms is needed including in prisons.
“It’s not yet an option,” maintained Eichab, adding that the call to distribute condoms in jails “is a long-coming one even internationally”.
“In most cases we educate offenders to abstain from sexual activities because it’s an offence. We know that it is not easy, as studies have shown that being in custody does not take away people’s desire for intimacy,” said Eichab, stressing that it’s “a major challenge to handle. It touches on the beliefs and traditions of people. It is not spelled out in the constitution that people should engage in homosexuality. It includes political leaders to change that.”
But Eichab said it is a good sign that the call for condom distribution in prisons came from a politician as this could mean things are changing.
“It’s up to political leaders to look into this. We are aware that education alone does not guarantee that offenders will abstain from sexual activities considering the length of some sentences, which imply some people may never come out of prison,” said Eichab.
A 2013 baseline report issued by the office of the ombudsman shows that more than seven percent of the prison population was HIV positive by the time the study was undertaken, Nampa reported last week.
“We rely on voluntary testing and based on that one could say that the statistics of HIV-positive offenders are relatively low,” said Eichab when asked on HIV prevalence within prisons.
In addition, he said although there are provisions for day parole for inmates under supervision, there are no arrangements as yet for married offenders to visit their partners for conjugal arrangements.
“That is a known practice in other countries but we don’t have it yet because there are no facilities for that,” said Eichab.