For twenty years I was employed by the the West Yorkshire Probation Service and I specialised in the assessment and risk management of male sexual offenders, both in custody and in the community.
I worked with transsexual prisoners on the Vulnerable Prisoner Unit at HMP Leeds, so I KNOW that the male estate IS fit for purpose for these men.
When I retired, I thought that my concerns with predatory male sexual offenders was over.
That was until the MOJ introduced “self identification” in women’s prisons for male prisoners.
When I heard that CONVICTED male prisoners with gender dysphoria and men with autogynephilia, (a male sexual fetish), were self Identifing as “women” and were being transferred to a female estate, I thought it was a rather unfunny joke.
When I realised that it wasn’t a joke…. I cried! I cried A LOT!
“Today’s demonstration, this protest, this outright OBJECTION to men in women’s prisons is a subject that resonates with me on a terrible, very personal level.
I’m a former inmate of HMP Styal. This occasion marks the first time I’ve returned to these grounds since I was shipped out in a sweat box 10 years ago. The conditions inside were as bleak then as they are now. Healthcare was not a priority, women were and are terribly unwell, with godawful diets and no good treatment plans. Mental health care is practically nonexistent. We’re talking about a forgotten population of the most achingly vulnerable women that society has left behind. Self harm is endemic, the statistics say that the prevalence is 5 times higher than the rates in men’s prisons – in reality this translates to the fact that the women I knew inside that didn’t self harm were a clear minority.
Many of the inmates are mothers. They miss their babies. You can hear them crying every night after lights out. The fear, pain and despondency they feel is palpable.
To herald a number of protests at women’s estates in the UK, led by Keep Prisons Single Sex, 30 women activists from:
Northern RadFem Network
Manchester Feminist Network
Women’s Rights Network
Sheffield Women of Steel
Answered the call from across the north of the country and descended onto HMP & YOI Styal with feminist banners, whistles, flags and shield-shaped placards to draw attention to the dangerous policy of allowing male convicts to self-identity as women and enter these estates.