Wellington, 10 May 2019
Speak Up For Women is dismayed to learn that a transgender prisoner being held in Christchurch Women’s Prison is being investigated for sexual assault against a female prisoner.
While the investigation is ongoing, it is the women of Christchurch Women’s Prison who Speak Up For Women is concerned about. “It has taken a whistle-blower for these allegations to come to light, only after she had left the prison. Our concern is that women are not feeling safe or able to speak out in these situations. We want to make it clear that we are here to advocate for these women should they need it,” says Ani O’Brien, spokeswoman for Speak Up For Women.
In the UK, following sexual assaults committed against female prisoners,by transwoman Karen White, prison authorities have made the decision to house transgender prisoners in a separate wing. “New Zealand should look to do the same,” says Ms O’Brien. “Our Government needs to step up and not be afraid of the hard conversations around this.”
The women’s group, which successfully campaigned to halt the sex self-ID provisions in the BDMRR Bill earlier this year, have emphasised that women in prison are some of the most vulnerable in the country. “Women in prison are much more likely to have experienced domestic and sexual violence, and in prison they should be safe from further abuse. Once again, we call for reasonable discussions to take place that include advocates for women’s rights. Corrections say safety is their top priority; we ask them to prove it,” says Ms O’Brien.