The issue: men in women's prisons
In Canada male-bodied prisoners; including those convicted of sexual assault and rape of women and children, are being housed in women’s prisons.
For males to obtain access to women’s prisons they simply self-identify as female. In BC, a consultation with a physician and completion of the Physician's or Psychologist's Confirmation of Change of Gender Designation is all that is required to gender designation on one’s Birth Certificate. “Hormones or surgery are no longer a requirement for being able to change your gender marker on B.C. or federal documents.”
Federally, nearly 40% more women are incarcerated than a decade ago — this has coincided with cuts to social services nationwide and the over policing of racialized communities.
In eastern Canada, Black women and women with disabilities are incarcerated at higher rates than the rest of the population.
In 2015 there were about 600 women in Federal prisons and 6,000 others in Provincial prisons.
About two-thirds of women in prison have children, and many have young children; most are single mothers.
Indigenous women who are perhaps the most vulnerable and disenfranchised women in our country make up 42% of the prison population.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of Indigenous women in federal custody more than doubled.
A 2017 government-led study found that nearly 80% of women in federal custody had a mental health disorder, with nearly 33% having been diagnosed with PTSD.
75% struggled with alcohol and substance abuse.
Most have never had steady employment which is reflected in the crimes they are imprisoned for.
Property crimes, such as shoplifting and vandalism, rank as the most common transgressions.
25% of women in federal custody are there for drug offences, sometimes taking the fall for others.
Any violence is often in self-defense—against an abusive partner, for example.
Close to 70% of women in federal prisons report a history of sexual abuse.
Why does keeping men out of women's prisons matter?
Female prisons are vastly different spaces than male prisons. Women prisoners are less violent, security is low, living conditions are communal, and many have programs that include prisoner’s children.
Now, any male who is a violent sexual predator can self-ID as a woman and demand a transfer to a women’s prison.
According to the Correctional Service of Canada Deputy Commissioner for Women, 50% of transfer requests in 2019 came from men convicted of sexual crimes against women and girls.
Many of those males transferred to women’s prisons have committed sexual assault against female prisoners and guards.
It seems obvious to state that men don’t belong in these facilities or any other female only spaces.
What can we do to keep men out of women's prisons?
We can write to our elected officials and tell them we don't want men in women's prisons: