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Zimbabwe prisoners need 'sex gadgets' to curb urges, senator says

Sithembile Mlotshwa told a parliamentary committee that prisoners can go without food and clothing as long as they satisfy their sexual needs, and should be given "sex gadgets" to "curb homosexuality."
Zimbabwe prison sex 20120314Enlarge
Seventy foreigners arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of trying to topple the president of Equatorial Guinea leave a court set up at a maximum security prison in Harare, on March 23, 2003. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG — A Zimbabwean senator has called for prison inmates to be provided with sex gadgets for "when the desire arises," to prevent them from "spreading" homosexuality.

Sithembile Mlotshwa, a senator from Matobo, Zimbabwe, told a parliamentary committee Monday that prisoners can go without food and clothing as long as they satisfy their sexual needs, the state-run Herald newspaper reported.

In Zimbabwe, prison conditions are notoriously terrible, and many prisoners never make it out alive. A 2009 documentary aired on South African television showed emaciated prisoners living in "death camp"-like conditions.  

According to the Herald, Mlotshwa "urged the government to forgo clothes and food and provide 'sex gadgets' in prisons to curb homosexuality."

“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?” she asked the Committee on Gender and Development.

“In other countries they provide sex gadgets and they have also constructed rooms where people go and service themselves when the desire arises,” she said.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is notoriously anti-gay. His rants about homosexuality have for years been a staple of his public speeches, and gays and lesbians have faced serious political repression under his rule. 

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Maxwell Ranga, acting secretary for justice and legal affairs, said his ministry faced serious financial constraints.

“If I am struggling to feed and clothe the prisoners, then how can I ask for gadgets?" he said, in response to Mlotshwa's questioning.

The "sex gadgets" referred to by Mlotshwa were not specified.

Last year, she told fellow senators that the only avenue left to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS among married people in Zimbabwe was by injecting men with an “immobilizer” to reduce their sexual appetite.

Mlotshwa made the comments during a debate on the first report on HIV/AIDS dealing with access to treatment, in the country's Senate, according to the Herald. 

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