The sexual assault survivor, on remand in the only prison in the territory, says she felt’ absolute fear and shame ‘

An Aboriginal woman with severe heart disease, on remand in the ACT’s only prison, said she was forcibly stripped naked by guards in front of male inmates in a “gross” abuse of human rights that “she.” could have killed “

The 37-year-old has a pacemaker and a collapsed lung. She also has borderline personality disorder and is a sexual assault survivor.She has been on remand in the Alexander Maconochie Detention Center for six months

In early January, she was told that her grandmother had died and the funeral was in a week’s time. The woman said she had asked for permission and “did the paperwork” to make the request official

The day before the funeral, she was told that the request had been denied “for logistical reasons”, causing her to become “very upset” She said a number of prison guards and nurses tried to take her to the Crisis Support Unit (CSU) “because they fear for my safety and mental health”

The woman said she had been in isolation for some time over the past few weeks and was concerned about the prospect of returning

She claimed that police stripped her naked by cutting off her clothes to check that she “had nothing on me for my safety” She alleged that four female officers in “full gear” – two male officers and two male nurses – were present. The incident was allegedly visible to several male inmates. She also alleged that she was menstruating at the time, adding to her embarrassment and distress

“Here I ask you to remember that I am a rape victim So you can only imagine the horror, the screams, the humiliating feeling, the absolute fear and shame I experienced … as well as the sadness and despair of not being able to attend my grandmother’s funeral, “she wrote. p>

The woman is a client of the Aboriginal health center in Winnunga Nimmityjah, which runs a daily clinic in the prison

Winnunga Nimmityjah’s executive director, Julie Tongs, said the treatment alleged in the letter showed “total disregard” for the dignity and well-being of women

“It’s disgusting and I don’t think things like this should happen these days,” she said

“Doing this to [the woman] especially with all of her health problems and exposing her to such great risk, but also the trauma from her history of sexual abuse, is just not appropriate. I don’t care if she’s in jail or not not, it shouldn’t happen

“I understand there are times when people fear for the safety of an inmate, but there are other ways to do business too. It’s just not right, you could have killed her, she could have died, and who then takes responsibility? “

In the ACT, men and women are in the same prison, according to Tongs, female inmates “must walk past men to get to the health center or program area, and this is not an ideal situation, especially for women who have been sexually or physically abused were “

A 2019 prison report by Corrections Inspector Neil McAllister found that women’s proximity to men’s units exposed them to “verbal harassment and abuse.”

Tongs has written to ACT Corrections Minister Mick Gentleman requesting an independent investigation into the incident as well as a fuller investigation into alleged racism at the Alexander Maconochie Center

“The Alexander Maconochie Center has strong oversight from a number of different agencies, including the Official Visitor, ACT Ombudsman and ACT Human Rights Commission. ACT Corrective Services works with regulatory agencies to respond to and deal with complaints from detainees edit, “said the spokesman

The spokesman said the minister was aware that the incident had been brought to the attention of the Human Rights Commission

Tongs said the ombudsman, human rights officer and correctional inspector had all been informed of the incident


World News – AU – Aboriginal woman in ACT prison claims she was stripped naked in front of male inmates