Most women in prisons have gone through violent or sexual abuse. These already vulnerable women are then subjected to more abuse from the state. They need people to start speaking out for them, not judging them.
As an advocate for First Nation women prisoners, especially Yamatji prisoners, I find the present situation disturbing. Prisoner numbers just keep growing and new prisons keep getting built. I have learned that the number of First Nations women being locked up is growing at a faster rate than any other demographic. These women, who have more than likely encountered an aggressive police officer or two, are taken from their children or, even worse, their children are put in state care. Prison breaks up families, causing more social issues back in the community.
Women detainees also face violations of their bodies via multiple strip searches. What the average Australian would call a violation of a woman’s body is done legally in prison. The prison system legally violates a woman’s body in the name of law and order.
I support prison abolition and while people are being locked away in cages, I will continue to be an abolitionist. There is not only a strong need to abolish the police force but an even stronger need to abolish the prison system. They work hand in hand, the police and prison systems.
[Deborah Green is a Yamatji woman and writer.]