Braless

hi everyone!

it's been a long time since i've posted anything here.  i had hoped that the blog would continue to be used by prisoners after my release, and although it's been a slow start, i still hope that will happen.  i've been in touch recently with a woman named Jeanette Tossounion who is currently serving a sentence at Vanier.  she asked me to post the following piece to Bored But Not Broken.  it's a really good example of the pettiness of the institution's need for control, and of the significant consequences it can have on the inmates there. 

i have a piece from an inmate at Edmonton Institution that i'll post here soon.  please keep reading - there are so many people looking to tell their stories to people who give a shit.  and if you're in touch with any prisoners please do let them know that they're welcome to post stuff here.  thanks!

since i received the post in the mail, i got a call from a friend of Jeanette's who told me that she had started a hunger strike and that she wanted me to know.  she started refusing to eat on april 18 at 8:30am, and that same morning was thrown in the hole.  later that day she was seen being taken down the hall, and then returned to segregation.  i confirmed the next day that she wanted me to let other people know about her situation.  i waited to see if i could get more details, but it's now april 24.  i haven't heard from Jeanette - i don't know if phone calls are available to inmates in segregation in Vanier - and i haven't had any calls from anyone on her behalf, so i have no way of knowing how she's doing or if the hunger strike is still on.  i'll post more information and updates if/as i get them.

Jeanette went on hunger strike because she is being fucked around by the institution as she tries to appeal her case and schedule a bail hearing.  she's doing her case by herself because Legal Aid hasn't committed to helping her.  the courts don't take collect calls and she's having trouble getting the jail to allow her to make a call from a phone off the range.  navigating the legal system as a self-represented person is complicated in the best of times, but when the jail has absolute power to grant or deny requests for phone numbers, phone calls and photocopies of legal documents, it can become an exercise in frustration.  institution staff should not ever be in a position to facilitate or impede inmates' access to the legal system.

cheers

mandy  :)

 

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Braless

 

I was locked down in a segregation cell from the morning of November 1st 2012, to the afternoon of November 15.  I was first charged with the misconduct of not wearing a bra.  A few days later I was charged with another misconduct for saying I don't want to wear a bra and was given 5 extra days to spend in jail from my early release date as further punishment.  That means I spend 5 days in jail for just simply saying I don't want to wear a bra.  Since when has it become illegal not to wear a bra?

 

I have never been a bra wearer and I have no intention to wear one in order to please a societal concept on how to mold a woman's body to be visually pleasing to society.  A bra forces breasts to be higher and pushed inward from where they naturally tend to go.  This conditioning of the muscles holds them in place not allowing the muscles to naturally work for themselves.  Some studies have shown that this lack of muscle control could lead to breast cancer.

 

Since the Gwen Jacobs case won in the 1990s, it has been legal for women to be without a top in public.  The reason for this is because it was ruled that in the province of Ontario, a woman's breast is not a sexual object and the female chest must have the same legal rights as a male chest.  Therefore, to force a woman in an Ontario jail to wear a bra is in fact illegal.

 

I was incarcerated at Vanier for 8 1/2 months and braless the whole time before I was locked down.  I guess the guards had better things to do than stare at my chest examining for looseness, until some creepy manager decided to charge me with these misconducts and throw me in the hole.  Because of these misconducts, I was denied parole because I don't follow rules.  Apparently standing up for my human rights and not allowing myself to be subjected to sexual discrimination according to the law, is being an unruly inmate that must be punished to all extremes.  Inmates who are caught with drugs or beat other inmates up only spend a few days in segregation and are soon back on medium security because that is the behaviour which is expected by inmates.  However, I must remain on maximum security because I was told that my braless breasts can cause chaos.

 

To punish an inmate for having certain body parts that must be oppressed is cruel and inhumane.  It is all about power and control issues - just like rape - to dehumanize and humiliate the victim.  It's reasons like this that the jails are so full.  Why inmates never get a chance to be rehabilitated.  All it does is give authority to break spirits, take away all hope and leave inmates feeling helpless, which is a trap I refuse to fall into.  

 

It starts with one small misconduct, then it piles up giving no way out.  Some inmates end up losing their minds, even to the point of committing suicide, like in the case of poor Ashley Smith at GVI.  Changes need to be made in order to prevent further such mishaps. 

 

Currently, I retained a human rights lawyer who specializes in feminist issues.  We are taking my misconducts to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  These discriminatory rules must be challenged and abolished before more injustice harms those who are already victims of the system.

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