Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Prisoners and sexual violence.

I've been crazy busy the last few days, and I haven't had time to think about uploading photos or coming up with creative new blog posts. So today I'm posting a few things I've grabbed out of Women's Centre newsletters.

This post is inspired by some of my busy-ness. On Monday afternoon, I went to the Townsville Correctional Centre with the Women's Centre, to celebrate International Women's Day with a group of women who are often forgotten about. Currently living their lives behind razor wire, these women are often treated as less-than-human by the prison guards who work in the Women's Secure section. But, the majority of women are in prison for minor offenses, many of which are related to poverty--break and enters, centrelink (welfare) fraud, stealing. But they are still women, and they deserve to be a part of International Women's Day.

So a group of women went up to the prison to spread the IWD cheer. We brought with us a proper deadly Aboriginal poet (proper deadly means really good in local Murri slang). We were met at the prison by an Aboriginal women's dance group and Soroptomist International (a moderate group of older women)--the Soroptomists had funded a visitor from the Pacific, a UN delegate. There were the obligatory speeches, and then there was dancing. A vast majority of the prison population is indigenous, and many of the women got up to join in with the dancers. (I joined in for the freestyle dance at the end, dancing like a turtle.) We heard heart-wrenching stories of homeless women who were victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and poverty, and they don't know what to expect when they leave the prison--will the law protect them at all?

It was an incredibly moving experience, and words just really can't express how amazing and difficult it was. So I'll stop trying, and leave you with these statistics from the newsletters.

How much do we know about violence against women?

The best indicators available are from the ABS Personal Safety Survey 2005 which updates information about women’s experiences of violence collected in the 1996 ABS Women’s Safety Survey.

From the 2005 survey the ABS estimated that in the previous 12 months:
363 000 women (4.7 % of all women) experienced physical violence; and 126 100 women (1.6 %) experienced sexual violence.

The ABS further estimated that:
2.56 million (33 %of all women) have experienced physical violence since the age of 15; and 1.47 million (19 %) have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.

From this it is possible to estimate that approximately one in five women (19 %) have experienced sexual violence at some stage in their lives since the age of 15 and one in three women (33 %) have experienced physical violence at some stage in their lives since the age of 15.

Statistics on Reporting Rape in Australia

“Though not exact, the consensus seems to be that only one in five rapes gets reported.
So, if 20 out of every 100 rapes are reported to police and 15 per cent of those reports lead to charges being laid, according to latest research, then only about three of the accused in every 100 assaults face trial. This suggests, based on the 25 per cent conviction rate at trial, that fewer than one of the original 100 assaults actually ends up in a conviction.”

Somewhere to help heal and fight back
Simon Mann
The Age
July14 2007

I think this is an important question to ask


  • 89% of women in prison have been sexually assaulted
  • 70% of men in prison have been sexually assaulted
  • one in 4 girls are sexually abused by 18
  • one in 8 boys are sexually abused by 18
  • On average in a classroom of 30 grade 12 students 5 of these have been affected by sexual assault
  • one in 3 women are sexually assaulted
  • only 10% of sexual assault is reported to the police
  • only 10% of this reported crime results in a conviction and not always a prison sentence

Are there more victims of sexual abuse incarcerated into our ‘Correctional Centres’ than perpetrators of sexual assault?

Heather Bond


pleasantly plump vegan said...

interesting read.

by the way i've tagged you for 5 facts. see my post for details.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

It's wonderful how you chose to spend Womens' Day. We definitely need to address the prison situation. For example, I just learned that here in the US, 1 in 100 men is incarcerated. That number is astounding!

Leng said...

What an interesting post.

Isn't it ironic how our prison system is all whacked out?

Laura said...

Plus, indigenous people are far more likely to be incarecerated than non indigenous people (although, who are we kidding? WHITE people). It's so messed up. But it definitely sounds like you did some good work.

textual bulldog said...

Thanks for such a great post! Take Back the Night week is coming up at my university and I definitely plan to do a post about that...

the little one said...

Powerful post. Thanks. I need to make sure no matter how busy I am that I don't miss your posts. I'm catching up now though! Super glad I didn't miss this one. Thank you for spending the day with women so often forgotten and victimized both by individuals and the system that claims to be doling out justice.