Mozambique’s justice minister will investigate reports of prison staff forcing female prisoners into prostitution that has been going on for a decade, following a report by an anti-corruption group.
For years prisoners from Ndlavela Women’s Penitentiary in the capital, Maputo, have been taken to nearby guest houses to work as prostitutes for wealthy clients, the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) revealed.
Current and former inmates who spoke to undercover investigative journalists said they were forced to have sex several times a week.
The victims said prison staff beat or punish them with hard labour if they refused to comply.
One of the women told an investigator that she had ended up in hospital after being beaten and having water poured over her – this tactic of plunging people into cold or dirty water is used by the security forces.
Other inmates spoke about wanting to take their own lives.
“There were times when I went out for four days straight,” an inmate said, adding that if she had not: “I wouldn’t be here anymore.”
Borges Nhamirre, who coordinated the investigation, said their research showed this had been going on for 10 years.
“It was like a formal business happening in jail, we do not understand how the board of the jail, the commanders could not notice that there is something very strange happening,” he told the BBC’s Newsday programme.
He alleged that the prison guards were benefiting financially from the sexual exploitation and even advertised when there was a new inmate
“The payments go from US$50 (£35) to US$500 per woman, it depends on what they called the quality of the woman, much younger the more expensive it will be.”
The women also alleged they were also being sexually abused by the prison guards. Statistics from 2019 show that Ndlavela Women’s Penitentiary has 125 inmates.
The CIP has called for an independent commission of inquiry to be set up to look into their findings – to include the public prosecutor’s office, MPs and human rights defence organisations. (Source: BBC)