3 Days of Activism in One: domestic violence, women in prison

// 2 December 2005

A few days of activism in one, I’m afraid, as I’ve been a bit remiss in updating!

Women in Prison (WIP) is a charitable organisation dedicated to making a difference to women facing prison, to those in custody and to women ex-prisoners. We undertake work to promote their resettlement, personal development, education and training, educate the public and policy makers about women in the criminal justice system and promote alternatives to custody.

70% of women prisoners have mental health problems.

37% have attempted suicide.

27 killed themselves in prison in 2003/4.

At least 50% report being victims of childhood abuse or domestic violence.

Nearly 40% lose their homes as a result of imprisonment.

55% re-offend on release.

It costs between £25,000 and £45,000 to keep a woman in prison for a year.

The most common offences for which women are sent to prison are theft and handling stolen goods.

The women\x92s prison population went up by 173% in the decade to 2004.

Prison does not work. The best way to cut women\x92s offending is to deal with its root causes.

"Taking the most hurt people out of society and punishing them in order to teach them how to live within society is, at best, futile. Whatever else a prisoner knows, she knows everything there is to know about punishment because that is exactly what she has grown up with. Whether it is childhood sexual abuse, indifference, neglect; punishment is most familiar to her.”

Chris Tchaikovsky, former prisoner and founder of Women in Prison


Women in Prison provides much needed practical help to thousands of women in prison and on the way out. The demand for our services is high and we urgently need your support. If you would like to support us, or to become a friend of WIP, please visit our website www.womeninprison.org.uk

Ashiana Project:

The Ashiana Project is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in East London. It has a Women\x92s service which supports and empowers South Asian, Turkish and Iranian women who are experiencing domestic violence, including those fleeing forced marriage, with culturally sensitive advice, support and safe housing – enabling them to make positive and appropriate choices for themselves. There is also an outreach service for women experiencing difficulty at home but wish to remain within the home; in-house counselling and individual key worker support for Ashiana residents and resettlement after-care support.

Ashiana provides a range of other services including a Youth Service which provides a generic programme of preventative educational and advice work in schools in East London with 11-16 year olds. The Training Service provides community outreach work at a variety of levels with both statutory and voluntary agencies aimed at raising awareness about domestic violence and related issues.

The Y Stop project is a unique award winning initiative as it is the first holistic refuge provision in the UK specifically catering for forced marriage victims. Since its inception in 2003, this ground breaking initiative has won three awards for its innovative work:

\xB7 The Lilith Project\x92s Rising Stars Award (Best Voluntary Sector Violence against Women Project) 2004

\xB7 The BME Spark (Supporting People Action Research & Knowledge) Award 2005

\xB7 An award of distinction from the Mayor of London 2004.

To support the Ashiana Project today:

Donations would be greatly welcomed and appreciated.

Contact details:

E: info@ashiana.org.uk

T: 020 8539 9656/0427/6800

F: 020 8539 1900

A: Ashiana Project

PO Box 816

London E11 1QY

Eaves Women\x92s Aid provide services for women and children escaping and experiencing domestic violence in 3 London boroughs. The services include refuge accommodation, floating support and community outreach, children\x92s services, resettlement, and legal advice provided in partnership with The nia Project\x92s specialist solicitor.

In early 2006, a new crisis house is due to open in a fourth borough which will accept women with high support needs including substance misuse issues and mental health problems. Currently these groups of women are unable to access most refuge accommodation, yet represent some of the most vulnerable and excluded women.

EWA recognises that domestic violence is gender based and part of the continuum of violence that women experience throughout their lives. Domestic violence is physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse that kills two women a week. The police receive one phone call a minute to respond to domestic violence, yet less than 40% of DV is reported. Services such as EWA are desperately necessary to save and rebuild lives.

To support EWA today:

Do you have a friend experiencing violence? Encourage her to go to a service for help.

National Domestic Violence helpline 0808 2000 247

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