CAIRO: Dr Hamdy El-Sayed, head of the PA’s Health Committee and chairman of the Doctors Syndicate called for allowing conjugal visits for prisoners at a lecture organized by the Syndicate on Saturday.
The move should lower the percentage of homosexual intercourse that reportedly takes place in Egyptian prisons, increasing the possibility of AIDS transmission.
The lecture, El-Sayed told The Daily Star Egypt, discussed means of enhancing prisoners’ physical and psychological conditions.
Dr Abdel Rahman Shahin, media spokesman for the Ministry of Health, told The Daily Star Egypt that El-Sayed s request is worth considering and can be implemented if it is applied in other parts of the world.
According to Shahin, the problem of homosexual intercourse in prisons occurs in all parts of the world and is not only restricted to Egypt.
However Shahin indicated that the percentage of patients infected with AIDS in Egyptian prisons is not high compared to other countries and relatively low compared to the number of Egyptians infected overall.
But Shahin admitted that conjugal visits might help reduce the probability of AIDS infections in prisons, as well as solve some of the social, psychological and attitudinal problems that occur in jails.
Hafez Abu Saeda, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), told The Daily Star Egypt that it is the prisoners rights to have private visits with their wives as it is the wives rights too to spend private time with their husbands.
However, practically speaking, Abu Saeda indicated that Egyptian prisons are neither designed nor equipped with the necessary facilities to allow conjugal visits.
Abu Saeda suggested that in order to avoid the government s usual negative reaction to similar recommendations, he proposed resorting to other means like allowing vacations as a reward to good behavior for prisoners after their first three or six months and permitting them to go home to spend time with their wives.
In that regard, El-Sayed said that his suggestion is concerned with the health care of prisoners and has nothing to do with prison regulations and facilities.
The idea of allowing conjugal visits, according to El-Sayed, was addressed in the PA before but was not approved by the council.
Al-Sayed further called for regular medical checkups to be conducted on prisoners and demanded a full medical examination of inmates before they start their sentence.