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Sunday 11 October 2015

Call for Corrections and Serco to apologise

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News - 10th October 2015

Transgender prisoners' safety campaigners this afternoon demanded that Corrections and Serco publicly apologise for their part in the prison rape of a transwoman and that Corrections reforms policies regarding initial placement of prisoners solely on the basis of the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Protester Emelie Rakete addresses the crowd
Almost 150 people gathered on Queen Street opposite Aotea Square to primarily protest against Corrections policies and practices which continue to leave trans prisoners at risk.

The protest was spurred by the allegation last week that a transwoman prisoner was raped in a south Auckland men's prison run by Serco.

The crowd heard that a further three transwomen prisoners are currently locked up in mens' prisons.

Emelie Rākete, whose arm was broken in a scuffle between trans rights protesters and security staff at this year's Auckland Pride Parade, said it cost hundreds of dollars for trans people to get their birth certificates changed "and most of us are pretty broke."

Of attempts to get effective political and prison policy changes over the years she said trans people are "sick of crawling to people who put us in places where we are beaten and raped... people who do not give a shit about the welfare of transpeople in their custody." She said people must take action "in the face of the military power of the NZ Government" and that police and corrections are "complicit in white supremacy" in New Zealand.

Other speakers included Lexie Matheson who related her experience of being beaten and incarcerated with men in Auckland police cells. "They knew who I was but they didn't give a rat's arse!" she said. She said private sector prison operator Serco "don't know what they are doing and don't care" and described Corrections minister Sam Lotu-liga as "a bit of a joke."

Kiran Foster said opportunities for violence against trans prisoners increased when the government allowed double-bunking in prisons as a cost cutting measure.

Gowan Ditchburn of the International Socialists' Organisation said prisons "are part of the structure of our racist society" and the "right-wing media slams the experience of trans people." He said the Ministry of Corrections should be renamed the Ministry of Abuse.

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