Many people believe prison rape is very common. It can be difficult to determine just how often it happens, however, since the number of reported cases of prison rape may be fewer than the actual number of cases of non-consensual sex overall. Some experts theorize that many inmates do not come forward to report that they have been raped because they are either embarrassed or fear the retaliation of the those who have victimized them. Additionally, it may be even harder to determine how many prisoners have been victims of rape when considering incidents in which a prison guard or other official commits rape and then makes an effort to keep the victim from reporting it to others in authority.
Experts often differ when it comes to their opinions of just how common prison rape is. Some experts claim that the number of incidents is decreasing while others state that it is increasing or staying the same. Some research studies have shown that a large percentage of prisoners have been the victims of sexual assault. The numbers, however, may differ from country to country as well as from prison to prison. Likewise, the numbers may vary based on the gender of a population of prisoners.
Many prisoners have come forward to report prison rape and assert that it is common. This may surprise some people who believe that only those in prison for rape and child molestation or those who previously worked in the justice system are likely to be raped. Some research has shown, however, that the type of crime for which a person has been convicted is not an accurate indicator of whether or not he will become a victim of prison rape. Even someone who has been convicted of what others might consider a lesser crime can become a victim.
While some research has demonstrated that prison rape is common, many experts fear that the statistics are misleadingly low. This is due to the fact that many prison rapes may go unreported because a victim feels too embarrassed to report it or has been threatened into keeping it to himself. In some cases, a prisoner may also fail to report it because he did not fight back and fears that no one will believe the sexual act was not consensual. Additionally, some prisoners report that their reports are ignored or considered false by corrupt, busy, or ill-informed officials.