Women and Prison: A Site for Resistance makes visible women’s experiences in the criminal justice system. Documenting these stories is integral to this project of resistance. The stories are supported by a collection of resources, such as organizations, reports, essays, and links to a wide range of information on women and prison. The contents of this website are fluid and constantly changing. We expect to add stories, articles and resources on a regular basis. Your feedback and contributions are welcome.
This site serves as a dedicated space for prisoners, those previously incarcerated, activists, students, academics, and everyone who strives for social justice. Through the use of this website, we hope to promote strategies and actions that challenge the system and the ways that it reproduces all forms of discrimination, violence, and social injustice in the treatment of women and their families.
The invisibility of women’s perspectives in discussions of the growing prison industrial complex constitute a serious gap, given that the numbers of women in this system are rising at an alarming rate. Moreover, by making women more visible, we expand the analysis, vision, and strategies being developed to seriously challenge the prison system. The incarceration of women is linked to a multitude of interconnected issues facing poor women, drug-addicted women, women of color, lesbians, and women in prostitution, including interpersonal and state violence, poverty, racism, reproductive rights, homophobia, harassment, lack of quality healthcare, homelessness, and more. Women and Prison: A Site for Resistance aims to make connections among these issues. By drawing attention to the interconnectedness of issues and strategies, we hope to further develop the grounds for coalition and alliance across organizations and movements.
…The inquiry heard that Aboriginal children suffer the highest rates of ear disease and hearing loss of any people in the world. There’s no national survey to establish the exact size of the problem; but in both remote and urban areas, there are signs of a national epidemic. The Federal Department of Health and Ageing cited a recent survey of 29 NT communities, which found only seven per cent of Aboriginal children had healthy middle ears. An audiologist at Alice Springs, who asked not to be named, says that if she finds one single child with normal hearing in the communities she visits, she’s ‘ecstatic’.
…But the Senate inquiry hints at something far worse: in relation to Aboriginal rates of OM, it says “there is likely to be a link between hearing impairment and higher levels of engagement with the criminal justice system.”
As well as their work with indigenous children, Telethon Speech and Hearing has just become the first non-government agency to screen the entire indigenous population of a jail. From April to June this year, Anne O’Leary personally tested 104 Aboriginal women at Bandyup Prison, on the outskirts of Perth.
Of 104, 45 failed a hearing test and needed a referral. 13 had perforated eardrums. 7 had scarred eardrums. 4 had ears discharging pus.
…Anne O’Leary says having hearing loss in prison is the ultimate isolation.
“A lot of [the women] would just withdraw into their rooms and shut down, really, because it’s just too hard to carry on conversation, people think you’re ignorant if you can’t hear,” she says.
According to Telethon Speech and Hearing’s interviews with the women, the prison officers did not realise the prisoners had hearing loss in one, or both, their ears.
“A huge amount of them commented that they had been getting into trouble for not coming when they were called, which is a bit tragic because they actually can’t hear over the PA systems or when someone’s calling them,” Anne O’Leary says.
“These women had similar ears to the children but they’ve had them for 10, 20, 30 years.”