by Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Col. Writ. 10/2/02]

We women are the majority of every people on the planet. But, everywhere, we are most lacking in political representation, least compensated for the work we do, most illiterate, most impoverished, most lacking in legal protection and recourse, and most concentrated in the lowest paying, least secure, and least valued sectors of the labor force. In addition, we are, everywhere, subject to physical and social violence. -- June Jordan, Affirmative Acts

Prisons are, by their very nature, places ruled by whim and illogic. The men who make the rules often do so with the certainty that little of what they do emerges into the light. Most Americans get their ideas on prisons from the HBO television drama, "OZ."

In August 2002 the Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections (DOC) put out a new rule allowing men to "pat search" women in its womenís prison, Cambridge Springs. What that means is that men may touch women between and under their breasts, buttocks, inside the thighs starting at the crotch, up and down the legs, and around the waist, etc.

MOVE women at Cambridge Springs, responding to the new rule, announced, "To have men searching women like this is a violation against us as women. They are saying that these men are at liberty to feel on us like this any time they want to. And that's just what some of these men are going to be doing-- using this as an opportunity to feel on women."

To the prisonís response that men will act "professionally," the MOVE women are justly skeptical, citing a recent sex scandal that led to the firing of 4 guards, and the resignation of others.

This "unwanted , unnecessary intentional touching," which, according to MOVE women, is a masquerade for a "pat search," is all the more illogical given the presence of more than sufficient female staff to conduct the searches.

As for the "professionalism" of prison staffers, the MOVE women have a timely, and cutting response:

"Just because these men are wearing uniforms donít make them no different than no other man... People trusted their children with Catholic priests, thinking them men of God and those men sexually molested and raped hundreds of children, for years. If you canít trust a priest , a person who is taught to be seen as the most trusted person there is, what makes this prison think they can trust these guards?"

For 24 years the brave MOVE women, Debbie Africa, Janet Africa, and Janine Africa have survived a cruel and unjust incarceration for daring to survive the brutal police assault on their homes on Aug. 8, 1978 in Philadelphia.

They ask that you help them fight this attack on all women prisoners. Call Warden Brooks at Cambridge Springs at 814-398-5400; Call Secretary Jeffrey Beard, at Central Office, 717-975-4859.

Rescind the Rule!


Text © copyright 2002 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.
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