An article in the Huffington Post today basically compared Canada’s treatment of prisoners with mental health issues to torture (Mentally ill and Canadian prisons). The UN Committee Against Torture has slammed Canada for its inappropriate and prolonged use of solitary confinement to deal with prisoners with mental health issues. These prisoners are coming with complex needs and the prisons are not capable of meeting them.
The UN’s recommends that Canada:
- increase the capacity of mental health centres
- stop the use of solitary confinement for prisoners with serious or acute mental health issues
- ensure that solitary confinement is limited and subject to judiciary oversight
Even before people with mental health issues enter Canada’s prison system they face improper treatment that can quickly lead to death. Toronto Police Involved in East End Shooting(happened close to my house) is a story from February 2012.
Police shot and killed a man who was out in the cold wearing a hospital gown, no shoes and holding a pair of scissors. Onlookers, neighbours, wondered if the police used excessive force on this man. There were 15 officers surrounding this one man who was then shot 3 times point blank. Some began to wonder if this man had mental health issues. Where was the mental health team? Well, Toronto police have no proper policy around handling crisis situations, for those with mental health issues or not. This is not the first time Toronto police have killed some with or possibly having mental health issues. To my knowledge this is being worked on.
In 2007, Ashely Smith was found dead in her prison cell. She had strangled herself but her death has been ruled an accident. She was first imprisoned when she was 15 years old and had bipolar disorder. Ashley’s mental health issues had gone untreated before and during her stay in prison. She was tasered, gassed, shackled, drugged and isolated. Ashely did not contain her fury towards her treatment which resulted in harsher sentences and treatment. Ashley was transferred 17 times, forcibly injected, and denial access to advocates, counsel and her family. She began to self harm while in solitary confinement where she would stay for months.
A few years ago I attended a seminar on South East Asian communities and their interaction with the prison system. One of the things I took away from it, aside that prison workers believe they are doing a fine job, is that many individuals in prison are not given adequate mental health services. Unless you have severe mental health issues you are left to suffer. I can only imagine the stress of entering and being in prison and how much that would be amplified if you have a mental health issue. Being in prison can also create
mental health problems.
It’s sad that we need death before we take action. I can only hope that with Canada’s new mental health strategy mental health workers, prison workers and police officers can improve and/or create mental health care for those in the prison system. Do people need to serve their time? Yes, of course! But we should not deny them proper treatment!
Canada must heed the Committee Against Torture’s recommendations and provide residential facilities to treat prisoners with mental health issues, and end the use of solitary confinement against them. Anything less would be an embarrassment of international proportions. -Renu Mandhane, Huffington Post
Today is the 1 year anniversary of SlutWalk (http://www.slutwalktoronto.com)! I am so happy that I live in city in which it was created, Toronto! SlutWalk was the first protest I have ever participated in and it is one of the best experiences of my life! (Ps. I will be moderating the hell out of any comments)
SlutWalk was founded by Heather Jarvis and Sonya Barnett who attend(ed) York University in North Toronto. York has a horribly history of its female students being sexually assaulted on campus grounds, including in their own dorm rooms! On January 24, 2011 York was having a crime prevention safety forum in which Toronto police officer, Constable Michael Sanguinetti, said:
“I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
He is right! He shouldn’t have said that!
Why use Slut in SlutWalk? A lot of people have asked that. Slut because it is the language he used. Slut because is it a historically degrading word used towards women. Slut too say “FUCK YOU!”
A lot of people, sadly get hung up on the movement using the term Slut. This sometimes completely removes certain from ever support it! This is upsetting because you don’t need to identify with Slut, you don’t have to like the word but you should not abandon the cause! SlutWalk is more about ending sexual violence against women and ending victim blaming!
SlutWalk is about a lot of things:
SlutWalk is about ending sexual violence against girls and women!
SlutWalk is about supporting women in reporting their assaults!
SlutWalk is about showing that it doesn’t matter what you wear, how you act, where you go, girls and women should not be raped!
SlutWalk is about showing that all women are at risk for sexual violence but that certain women such as racialized and disabled women are at and even higher risk!
SlutWalk is about demanding the police not turn women away or dismiss their claims of rape!
SlutWalk is about demanding that individuals who sexually assault someone are given appropriate punishments!
SlutWalk is about reclaiming women’s sexuality and pleasure which has long been oppressed under our current patriarchal system which says a women needs to look, act and be a certain way!
SlutWalk is about support lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in their safety and sexuality and acknowledges that all sexual orientations are at risk of sexual violence!
SlutWalk is about reclaiming historically degrading words, such as Slut, to make them lose their power of us!
SlutWalk is about EDUCATING MEN to not rape because they are a key piece of ending rape culture!
SlutWalk is about globally supporting the rights or girls and women!
SlutWalk is about removing the shame experienced by girls and women who experience sexual assault!
SlutWalk also acknowledge the sexual assault experienced by men and seeks to support them!
SlutWalk helped me create a new self worth! As soon as I found out about SlutWalk, what the movement was about, I finally felt comfortable with myself. For too long had I be damned, and worse, damned myself, for my sexuality! SlutWalk allowed me to experience freedom. I was able to walk with women and men, young and old, who supported me, who understood my journey and I can’t explain how amazing that felt!
I have faced some anger from women who disagree with the movement. I have been told that I am betraying women by supporting a cause that uses such a degrading term and that I call myself a slut (proudly). These are usually the same women who then go on to say that clothing, behaviour, and location to condemn a women to be raped. This is a disgusting attitude!
I will be participating again in SllutWalk 2012 which will be on Saturday May 26 (two days after my birthday)! It will be bigger this time so probably more amazing than the first! I’m very proud to be a part of this movement!
Today, April 3 2012, is the first International Day Against Victim Blaming! Please do you part in eliminating the blaming of victims of assaults DONE TO THEM!!!
It DOES NOT matter what they’re wearing!
It DOES NOT matter how they’re are acting!
It DOES NOT matter if they’ve had sex with the person before!
It DOES NOT matter if they walked down the dark ally!
It DOES NOT matter if they’re are intoxicated!
It DOES NOT matter if they are in a sexual relationship with the person!
IT DOES NOT MATTER! DO NOT RAPE! NO MEANS NO! WE DON’T “ASK” FOR IT!