Women who’ve experienced severe disadvantage think no-one will speak up for them, but today Women’s Voices let off balloons in remembrance of the life of Celeste and other women whose lives have been lost whilst in custody.
Some of us knew Celeste personally. And have felt this loss personally. This could have been any of us. We are angry that the same failings have been happening for so long. Some of us were in custody when the Corston report was published (2006) – and hoped that change would come for women, with care being put before incarceration.
And yet, 19 women have died in women’s prisons this year. 19. The highest in 12 years. A lot of these women were in prison for petty crimes, were struggling with mental health, and had been through trauma and domestic violence.
Vulnerable women are finding it harder and harder to meet the criteria to be diverted to mental health services instead of custody. Leaving them wide open to falling through the cracks.
These women are someone’s mother, daughter, auntie, sister. No life is worthless, when empathy and compassion cost nothing. Where is the help? Where is the empathy? Women are not statistics. We are not pound signs.
It seems to us that nothing has changed since 2006 and preventable deaths of women are still happening.
Our balloons had messages of change on them – highlighting the injustice behind a system that puts women behind a lock and key, instead of offering her support.
Here were some of Women’s Voices messages on the balloons:
- There’s not enough help in women’s prisons
- Rehabilitate instead of just leaving them
- Listen to women – and hear from the heart. She was asking for help!
- The criminal justice systems fails women with mental health problems.
- The system failed Celeste, and many other women
- Care not incarceration
There are repeated failings and missed opportunities to help women turn their lives around – and this needs to change. We need to stand united, to bring about change for those unheard voices.
Women’s Voices are here as a supportive community, enabling women who have experienced severe disadvantage to speak up, and step out!
Together, we will continue the fight to change the system for Celeste.