prison and society
mixed stuff
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please note:
due to a lack of resources it's impossible for us to organize the regular new years eve demonstration against prison and repression in berlin this year. so, this year a different group is holding the rally .
you can read the resummon for the rally [  here.(in german, english version is coming soon) naturally, our project ( a.r.a.p.) "transgender and prison" will be continued.
best wishes a.r.a.p. December 2006

September 2006
Transgender and Prison

We are a leftist political group working on the subjects prison and repression. Our project at the moment, or our main focus is on "transgender and prison". On the occasion of a demonstration against prisons and repressiv institutions organized every year we have in the past always focused on different topics that we have worked on preparing the demonstration. The topic "transgender in prison" is important to us for some time already, but it is only now that we find the time to work on it continually. In the context of our work we read texts and brochures from other countries as e.g. the us and canada.

Again and again we found that there is nothing on this topic here in germany. rare articles every couple of years in newspapers about a transgender in prison, or, even more rarely, timid hints in forums on the web are the meagre results of our search for information. There are neither books on this topic nor term papers or thesises, no scientific or government research. It seems like they didn't exist: transgenders in prison. So with this we are trying to find transsexual or transgender people who have been or are in prison, that have experiences e.g. with police controls, or that have out of other contexts thought about this subject.

What situations do transgenders/transsexuals face, with what problems does somebody have to fight that positions himself/herself between the genders and now has to get along in a one-gendered state-institution without a niche and privacy? What is the practice in germany? how do the different JVAs act, how the judges, how the other prisoners?

How does the police act when controlling transgenders and transsexuals? How in detention? Are there assaults by the police? Or in prison, by other prisoners or guards? in what do they consist? What is the legal situation transgenders/transsexuals find themselves in? Which regulations apply in police custody or in prison, which laws? What are necessary actions, and who is to take them? lawmakers, the juridical apparatus, police, information centres, and ultimately, what actions are we to take?

Sexual assault on prisoners

Sexual violence is an important issue here, too. When dealing with transphobic and homophobic violence and discrimination the issue unfortunately suggests itself.

This issue, too, is absolutely ignored in germany. one can proceed on the assumption, that there is sexual violence in prison. If you speak with people like social workers or priests about it, you will rarely find anybody that denies it. But you also won't find anybody to address this topic publicly. There are also no studies and only very few publicly known cases. The way prisoners deal with this issue is very ambivalent. In the jvas there is no possibility to talk about this issue, no group working on it, no lawyers that address the legal situation and fight for changes for the prisoners. For a prisoner who has been victim of sexual assault in prison there is, in addition to the shame and having to deal with the experience, the certainty to have to meet the offender every day.

As sexual assault is not an official issue, there are no official procedures or precautions for the concerned. Also individual ways of dealing with the experience, for example the option of a therapy is possible only under extremely difficult conditions, if at all. The options for therapy in prison are hair-raising/outrageous. With penal institutions that rely more and more on cheap and secure detention, enough therapists for the institutions are rather wishful thinking. Under such conditions the free choice of a therapist is impossible, as well, something that is vital in our opinion.

So we would also like to bring this issue to light some more. We are aware, though, of the fact that this is among the most difficult things for people to tell, and the most difficult things to admit and debate in public. In the us there are groups that try to work on the issue for some time already, and also there the veil of silence only just begins to be lifted step by step. After years of fruitless work, now more and more people are ready to speak out in public. a reason for this clearly are the changed legal conditions that are provided to the prisoners if they want to press charges from inside the prison. This is not only especially about transsexual or or transgender prisoners, but concerns all prisoners.

Our aim is to get an approximate assessment of the situation and the extent of sexual assaults in german prisons. Although our focus is on germany, we are also interested to learn how the issue is dealt with in other european countries.

We know that we are addressing two very delicate and embarrassing topics, that many out of shame or fear or other reasons prefer not to consciously deal with. Nevertheless we appeal to you to take up this issue and to help us, if possible.

We are looking, of course, primarily for people that have experiences with one of the issues. We are looking for negative, as well as positive experiences. For us everything is useful, as we are aiming at a representative general view. So write about your experiences whatever they may be. We are also interested in suggestions and further tips. Lawyers that work on the issue, books, papers that we have not found, people that have written something about it on homepages, and also if have always wanted to comment anything concerning the topic, anything and anybody is welcome.

What are we planning to do?

On the occasion of our annual demonstration against repressive institutions we would like to publish a brochure with the results of our work. We want experiences, positions, conclusions from experiences, the dealing with fears and the demands of transgenders and transsexuals to make up the main part of this brochure. These are supposed to be the basis of further demands for a change of the present situation.

An analysis of the legal situation of persons beyond the biological sexes facing police and justice and showing up possible legal "loopholes" and ways to act are also supposed to make up a part of the brochure. Our concerns are on the one hand to basically bring to light a situation that is rarely discussed in germany, and on the other hand the question of changes. As some work has already been done on this topic in the us, some it will be worthwhile to take a look at the demands and accomplishments of the movement there and use them as an orientation for germany.

Of course we will treat the responses with confidentiality. Not every interview has to be and can be included in the brochure. Our aim is a general view. For that also anonymous and non-public statements can be helpfull. A respectful handling of the statements made to us goes without saying. The interviewed person will always have the final say.

Email and internet are of course a very impersonal medium. Write us an email, we are also gladly willing to get in contact with you in person.

with kind regards,
Bari for "against repression against prison"

Kontakt: a.r.a.p@web.de
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