Behind The Bars



Jessica Xalxo uses a beautiful word to describe herself- iridescent. Jessica is an active blogger and is volunteering with Safecity as a blogger. A student by the hours, she is passionate and ferocious in her writing on several issues that plague gender and our society.


Behind The Bars

I was watching Orange Is the New Black which is an American Dramedy series based on the lives of a large set of female inmates in a prison. I absolutely love the rawness and realistic vibe of the Show and it has me completely hooked. They often show flashbacks and the back stories of each inmate and it really helped me understand how they got to where they are. Some of them did so by chance & some by circumstance. What I want to talk about in this article is the abuse I saw within the jail. Particularly, sexual abuse. Whether it was a desperate attempt by an inmate to get Contraband or an Official giving an inmate “What he thinks she wants”, this made me think of sexual abuse in our Jails. Is the situation in Indian jails as bad or worse? Does this happen in jails worldwide? A Google search on the topic brought horrifying facts & knowledge to my eyes.

If we’re repulsed by sexual abuse outside of bars then why is it that we don’t even blink twice when it happens behind them?

In a report by The Times Of India  on Tihar Jail it was found that new male inmates are often masturbated upon as a welcoming and raped brutally in front of a group of inmates who watch for pleasure. If the inmate is a Rapist,his rape is even more cruel. They don’t report their abuse because of the fear of creating bad blood with the operating prison gangs and also because they would be looked down upon as a result of the ‘Hyper Masculinity Code’ in Prison. Some even sell their bodies to score facilities or certain comforts. Men also try to look unkempt in an attempt to dodge sexual abuse and most join gangs for safety. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has looked into and demanded reports on the serious matter. According to an Alternet report, female inmates were working odd hours and were being forced into prostitution by the prison guards.Investigators discovered this in the letters inside the grievance boxes in the women’s wing of Bangalore’s Parappana Agrahara Prison. The court ordered an inquiry of the complaints,which will be carried out by the Prisons Department and the Women and Child Welfare Department.

Its not just Indian prisons where the situation is so dire, prisons all over the world have a similar abusive environment. So much so that America had passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 under the Presidentship of Mr. George W. Bush.

Mike Farrell, an Actor & Political Activist, writing in The Huffington Post stated that,”The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission meets periodically to ‘study the impact of prisoner rape.’ While they study, rape continues.”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, USA, Correctional Administrators reported 8,763 allegations of sexual victimization in prisons, jails, and other adult correctional facilities in 2011, a statistically significant increase over the number of allegations reported in 2009 (7,855) and 2010 (8,404).

About half of all allegations (51%) involved non-consensual sexual acts (the most serious, including penetration) or abusive sexual contacts (less serious, including unwanted touching, grabbing, and groping) of inmates with other inmates. Nearly half (49%) involved staff sexual misconduct (any sexual act directed toward an inmate by staff) or sexual harassment (demeaning verbal statements of a sexual nature) directed toward inmates.

In 2011, 902 allegations of sexual victimization (10%) in USA prisons were substantiated (i.e., determined to have occurred upon investigation). The total number of substantiated incidents has not changed significantly since 2005 (885). Victims were physically injured in 18% of substantiated incidents of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, compared to less than 1% of incidents of staff-on-inmate victimization.

More than half (54%) of all substantiated incidents of staff sexual misconduct and a quarter (26%) of all incidents of staff sexual harassment were committed by female staff. Overall, more than three-quarters (78%) of staff perpetrators were fired or resigned. Nearly half (45%) were arrested, referred for prosecution, or convicted. These statistics are alarming and a cry for help by prisoners.

This letter was sent from East Mississippi Correctional Facility’s inmate to the American Civil Liberties Union in 2012.

[Image by Jim Cooke. Photo via Shutterstock]
[Image by Jim Cooke. Photo via Shutterstock]
Some of us may argue that criminals don’t deserve to be treated humanely; that those who violate the rights & safety of others have no right to be able to defend themselves. That still doesn’t take away, the right of a prisoner to reform and change. If these criminals are to come out of prison, don’t we want them to live in our country and the rest of the world as responsible citizens? Citizens who respect the rights of every individual?

As Nelson Mandela said, “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

There are countless people in Prisons who are untried, framed and or innocent. COUNTLESS. They most definitely deserve to be safe. I hope that the authorities not only look into these matters but also actually take action. For once, prisoners will see a ray of hope.

Finally, when it comes to Indian Prisons, WHERE IS ONE SAFE IN INDIA?


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