WIBG Video Interviews Carol Mann, Director of Women in War

Azra, who re-organized schooling in her neighbourhood under siege next to the destroyed school in Dobrinja (Sarajevo)

A trial in Istanbul, another deadly crossing of the Mediterranean Sea while security in the wealthier countries is a key word, refugee camps that are prisons with no rights, a drone program that executes blind death sentences, this is our time. Meanwhile, where is the exposure of violence against women perpetrated by official or self proclaimed States?

Carol Mann, the director of Women in War, an organization that concentrates its work and actions on the intersection of gender and armed conflicts, talked to us about genocide, female genocide, Rojava and the outrageous conduct of the supra national European Union in the refugee so called ‘crisis’.

Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide after witnessing and documenting the Armenian massacre and then the work of the Nazis. He wanted more than a name but also a convention and a UN treaty on genocide. The goal was to have a law to protect targeted populations. However “never in history had states even resolved to prevent atrocities,” and I should add in particular against women. When atrocities are committed and before an actual political action to stop them is attempted, a moment of no rights occurs during which minorities and other targeted populations face the atrocities alone.

In Turkey, scholars attempted to denounce the blind violence of the Turkish army, that some called genocidal, in Turkish Kurdistan. They signed a petition for peace that said ,“We will not be a party to this crime”, and now they are facing legal and social retaliation from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who has also directed his wrath at journalists.

Let us not forget that the wealthy nation officials are turning their heads to the other direction but we do not!

In solidarity

 

 

(Photo Credit: Women in War) (Video Interview by Brigitte Marti)

Outrage: The dirty, filthy Soma massacre

 

A mine exploded in Soma yesterday. Close to 300 miners are now dead. The world media sees this as tragedy, disaster, accident. Prime Minister Erdogan sees it as just one of those “ordinary things.” It’s mining, and shit happens.

No!

Across the country, through the haze of grief and sorrow, Turks are compelled by outrage and fury. They know. “This is not an accident, this is murder.” “We will not refer to it as an accident, we will call what happened a massacre.”

The ways of murdering miners are many. In this instance, it’s the crime of looking the other way, of refusing to inspect. For 19 years, Turkey has refused to sign the International Labor Organization’s No.176 “Security and Health in Mines Agreement”. The agreement places many responsibilities on the government and the employers. For 19 years of deteriorating mine conditions, the Turkish government said, “This can wait.”

Last year, a parliamentarian from the Republican People’s Party submitted a motion to investigate work-related accidents at the coalmines in Soma. All three opposition parties supported the proposal. However, the Justice and Development Party, Erdogan’s party, opposed the motion. Two weeks ago, it was rejected.

They knew the mine was a powder keg set to explode. But what are a few hundred miners in the big equation? And now, the keening women of Soma join the incandescent women of Marikana, in song and sorrow: “The love of my life is gone.”

There was no accident, disaster or tragedy. Instead, there was murder and massacre, and it was dirty and filthy. And there is outrage.

 

(Photo Credit 1: CNN) (Photo Credit 2: New York Times / Uriel Sinai)

Women demand cities that value women

In this season of mass protests and demonstrations, much of the news media has decided that this global phenomenon is an expression of `middle-class rage’. It’s not. The waves of mass protests are a creative response to the form of urbanization that now covers the globe. Remember, already more than half the world population lives in urban zones, and, according to the United Nations, soon more than half the world population will live in urban slums. This means the urban local is global. That’s the lesson that protesters, and in particular women protesters, are once again bringing to the streets and beyond.

The march of protests is a global urban uprising. Ask the women, and their colleagues and friends, who, through policy brutality, have become icons of the protest movements.

When Ceyda Sungur, Gezi Park’s `woman in the red dress’, was interviewed, after the police pepper sprayed her in the face, she deflected personal attention: “A lot of people no different from me were out protecting the park, defending their rights, defending democracy. They also got gassed.”

How does protecting a park equal defending rights equal defending democracy? On one hand, in the specifics of the moment, the equation is part of the pro-democracy rhetoric. On the other, more pertinent hand, Ceyda Sungur is an urban planner. When Sungur says, “For me this is about freedom of speech and the power of the people”, she means the struggle for the park, rights, democracy, freedom, power, is an urban struggle, a struggle against authoritarian, anti-human, anti-woman urban development.

Then there’s Liv Nicolsky Lagerblad de Oliveira. She lives in Rio. One night, she was standing alone on a street corner where there had been demonstrations earlier. Hours earlier, the riot police had forcefully removed all the protesters, but they were still hungry. They descended upon Oliveira, alone, late at night, just standing, and pepper sprayed her full in the face at close range. Yet again, the riot police created a new icon, yet again a woman.

And yet again the message, this time Oliveira’s, was urban: “The city is being gentrified. The poor can no longer afford to live in some favelas and the elite is taking their place. The cost of life is increasing and the increase in bus fare was just the last straw.”

Around the world, thanks to `urban development’, the working poor can’t afford to live in the slums. Women know this story, because they’re the central, disallowed subjects.

Repeatedly, protestors argue the City has become the epicenter of debt-and-death. Worldwide women are protesting the designed hostility of `the new Jerusalem’ to women and girls. Women, like Ellen Woodsworth, the founder of Women Transforming Cities, are organizing with women to address the complete and systemic lack of gender equity lens that marks city planning and governance. Urban public lighting, transportation, access to medical care, access to police, affordable housing, green common spaces, toilets, living wages, decent working conditions, violence, crime, peace, well being, inequality, equality are all particular to women and are all feminist issues. For example, in Japan, the environmental recycling movement had to rethink everything when women challenged the assumptions of their mandated unpaid, unrecognized, `informal’ labor … in the name of a green economy. The women in Japan said, “No gender equity, no peace.” The women in Istanbul, Ankara, Dhaka, Rio, São Paolo, Vancouver, Cape Town, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and beyond, are saying so as well.

The last green space in Istanbul is an urban women’s issue, and a feminist crisis. The rise in public transport fares and the pricing of slums out of the reach of the working poor in Rio de Janeiro is an urban women’s issue, and a feminist crisis. Thais Gomes, Brazilian `shantytown dweller’, understands that. It’s not “middle class rage”. It’s urban.

Around the world, women are saying “Hell no!” to the “gift” of global hyper-urbanization and “Hell yes!” to cities that respect all living beings as valuable, to city administrators and planners who see value in the social, to those who value women as humans, neighbors, partners.

 

(Photo Credit: Bianet)

Around the world, women say, “Hell no!”

Brazil’s Vinegar Revolution

Around the world, women are loudly, softly, even silently rejecting the `advances’ of repressive regimes, from Turkey and Greece to Senegal and Brazil, women are saying, “Hell no.” The State says vacate, and women say, “No, we’re staying.” The State says move on, and women say, “We’ll just stand still for a while.” The State says, “Come to our big event”, and the women say, “No, and here’s why.” The State says, “Ok, come on in,” and women respond, “You know what? After the way you’ve treated me, you can keep your so-called invitation.”

When the Greek state tried to close the ERT television station, workers, women like Maria Kodaxi, refused to move. Across Turkey, women refused to accept the violence of the State and, one by one and then in tens and hundreds, became “duran kadin”, standing women. In Greece and Turkey, the struggle continues.

As Turkey gave the world Gezi Park and #durankadin, Brazil this week gave the world … vinegar. Vinegar uprising. Vinegar revolt. The salad revolution. Police thought they’d quell and dispel a relatively small group of protesters with tear gas, batons, and violence. Instead of quell, they got rebel. Where there were tens, a million marched and more are on the move. And vinegar became the symbol of resistance and solidarity. It’s a good week for new symbols that match new forms of action.

Carla Dauden is one Brazilian woman engaged in protest, and she is not going to the World Cup. Dauden is a young filmmaker, a native of Sao Paolo, and the director, producer, narrator and face of “No, I’m not going to the World Cup.” Part of her reason is an ethical calculus: “Now tell me, in a county where illiteracy can reach 21%, that ranks 85th in the Human Development Index, where 13 million people are underfed every day and many people die waiting for medical treatment, does that country need more stadiums?” As of this writing, over 2.5 million people have watched and listened, and maybe heard, Carla Dauden explain why she is saying, “No”.

In Senegal, Bousso Dramé is not going to Paris. Bousso Dramé is, by any standards, an accomplished woman, whatever that means. The World Economic Forum thinks she’s a “global shaper”: “a proud African, committed Senegalese citizen and vibrant young woman.” Dramé works for the World Bank, has many advanced degrees, speaks many languages. She recently won a national spelling bee. Part of the prize was a round trip ticket from Dakar to Paris and back. When Dramé went to the French Embassy to apply for her visa, she was treated like dirt, “as less than nothing.” This abuse happened repeatedly, and was visited upon her by a number of embassy personnel. And so, when Dramé finally, finally was informed that she had finally been approved for a visa, she write an open letter to the French government saying, “No, thank you.”

Dramé said no not only in her own name, but in the name of Senegalese across Europe, of Africans across Europe: “If the price to pay … is to be treated like less than nothing, I prefer to reject this privilege altogether… I wanted to put forth a symbolic act for my Senegalese brothers and sisters who, every day, face being crushed in the embassies of Schengen zone.”

From Turkey to Greece to Brazil to Senegal and France, the particulars may change, but the dance is the same. And women across borders, in studios, parks and streets, videos, embassies, consulates, and open letters, are saying, “Hell no.”

 

(Photo Credit: Reuters)

From Gezi Park to Bakirköy Women’s Prison, the struggle continues

In Ankara, a #standingwoman surfaces. She is standing in Kizilay Sq, where Ethem Sarisuluk was shot dead by the police.” Across Turkey, individuals are standing, facing, moving while perfectly still. #duranadam. It means, “standing man.”

Revolutions change our language. How many around the world knew of Tahrir before the Egyptian uprisings? Now, we all do. It’s a gift Egyptians have given to the world.

The democracy and social movements across Turkey have given us Gezi, Taksim, and now #duranadam. This is part of the inherent creativity of people in movement.

The State has responded with predictable, moribund redundancies. First, it tried to criminalize the protesters. Then it claimed they were foreign agents. Then it tried to claim they were only a dissident, spoiled fringe minority. This is textbook `Statecraft’ at its emptiest.

Then the State sent in the police, to `clear’ the parks, to `reclaim’ the commons in the name of `the people’. Familiar, no?

Today’s news is filled with the predictable: “Turkey arrests dozens in crackdown”; “scores detained”; “dozens detained.”

Behind the `niceties’ of detention and arrest stands the prison. Turkish prisons are notorious for their human rights violations and abysmal conditions. On October 20, 2000, Turkey “gave” to the world the longest and deadliest hunger strike in modern history. Across Turkey, for three years, prisoners fasted, and died, protesting the construction of F-Type prisons, which are basically supermax. Across Turkey, women prisoners went on hunger strike, `even though’ women prisoners weren’t sent to F-Type prisons. In Turkey, solidarity is not a new phenomenon. Neither is standing, seemingly alone and yet decidedly with others.

Since then, hunger strikes, by prisoners and others, have become a regular part of the Turkish political landscape. Last September 60 or so Kurdish prisoners went on hunger strike. By the end of the strike, close to 70 days later, close to 700 prisoners had joined the strike, plus untold others across the country and even around the world.

At the same time, sexual violence, rape, and torture also form a part of the Turkish political landscape that emerges from and returns to prison. Women, like Hamdiye Aslan and Asiye Zeybek, have reported on the extreme and continuous violence they suffered. For more than a decade, national and international groups have documented this. Little to nothing has changed.

Some things have changed. In 2002, there were 55,000 people in Turkish prisons and jails. In early May, there were more than 130,000. Health care in the prisons has gone from bad to criminally worse, as acknowledged recently by none other than Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In October 2011, Ayşe Berktay, writer, translator, peace and justice activist, pro-Kurdish activist, was arrested. She’s still in prison, two years later. In December 2011, Berktay wrote from Bakirköy Women’s Prison: “The situation here is rather critical. Feeling ever more powerful with the support he is getting from `Western powers’ as a representative of so-called `Western ideals of democracy and freedom’ in the region, Erdoğan has turned his back on—or done away with—all semblance of democracy at home and is preparing to intervene actively in the region. Your action is valuable in the sense that it exposes the true nature of the Erdoğan government…He feeds on this `democratic prestige’ he has abroad to take harsher measures against democratic opposition at home. Such prestige makes his hand stronger against opposition in the country. Anyone who does not agree or go along with his way of solving the problem is a terrorist, an enemy—familiar, no?”

Familiar, no?

This morning, Rumeysa Kiger, a journalist who had been part of the delegation that met with Erdoğan last week, was arrested. According to her husband, she was on the way to an interview when she saw police arresting protesters. She went to object and was herself arrested. Familiar, no?

As Berktay concluded, two years ago, “Protests against this anti-democratic obstruction of political struggle and the arbitrary nature of the detentions, against arbitrary detentions to obstruct political struggle and democratic opposition, are very important. They need to know that the world knows and follows.”

One man standing. One woman standing. Thousands of women and men standing, in prisons, parks, squares, and streets. Extraordinary, no?

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.ayresmendevrim.com/2013/07/dunyadan-ve-turkiyeden-duranadam.html)

For women workers, it’s time to change the song

Reading the names of the missing women.

Across Turkey, women are at the forefront of the demonstrations. And not only women. Feminists: “At first groups of students chanted: `We are the soldiers of Ataturk’; this died out after feminist protesters objected to its militaristic overtones.”

From the first eruption through today, the Turkish movement has been a giant popular feminist education site, and one that includes sex workers: “`We used to sing ‘Erdogan is the son of a whore’. But when the police teargassed us, one of the brothels on Taksim Square opened its doors, and the women gave us shelter and treated us with lemons. We don’t sing that any more.’”

The solidarity of sex workers taught demonstrators that sex workers are workers, sisters, and women. Sex workers are not epithets or metaphors, and they are not criminals. They are part of the working mass, and they can represent themselves.

In the past week, sex worker organizations have taught exactly the same lesson to workers, social movements, and the State, around the world.

Across Canada this weekend, sex workers and supporters demonstrated, under the Red Umbrella, for legalization of sex work and for sex workers’ rights as workers, women, and women workers. This week, Canada’s Supreme Court will finally hear a challenge by Terri-Jean Bedford, Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch to the constitutionality of the laws concerning sex work.

Former and current sex workers have argued that criminalization makes sex workers more vulnerable, forces them further underground, further isolates them, and impedes access to public and social services. It’s a hard life, and the laws only make it harder, sometimes fatally so: “When Kerry Porth remembers her life as a sex worker in Vancouver, she can’t help but wonder how she survived when so many other prostitutes died a gruesome death at the hands of notorious serial killer Robert Pickton. `They were women just like me. Looking back, realizing just how much risk I was at, it was a real eye-opener.’”

In Kenya, sex workers in Laikipia District have organized a group called the Laikipia Peer Educators. They want formal recognition. They want the protection that formal recognition might provide, and they want the citizenship, the opportunity to participate and contribute to the common good in the same manner as every other worker. They want to trade in stigma for taxes.

In Australia, the Scarlet Alliance, representing Australian sex workers, lobbied to have foreign sex workers included among the skilled work visas. Sex work is legal across Australia, to varying degrees, but it’s not considered “skilled labor” by the State, at least not yet. Massage therapists, gardeners, florists, cooks, dog handlers, fashion designers, bed and breakfast operators, entertainers, dancers, recreation officers, makeup artists, jockeys, gymnastic coaches and horse riding instructors are considered skilled labor, but not sex work.

This is about work that is not called work, workers who are not called workers, and women who are told they cannot represent themselves. This concerns sex workers, as it concerns domestic workers in the United States. Both Hawaii and California seem to be on the verge of implementing or of passing respective Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. All workers are workers. Period.

Feminist political economists have argued for decades that women’s work is work, whether it’s waged or not, whether it’s called work or not. Women workers have known this and have organized for centuries for recognition, dignity, autonomy, rights and power.

From the social movements in Turkey to the courthouse in Canada to the District government in Kenya to the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship to the state houses across the United States, it’s time. It’s time to recognize women’s work, all work, as work, and to recognize all workers as workers. It’s time to change the song.

 

(Photo Credit: Rabble.ca / Murray Bush / Flux)

“A Bunch of Marginal Marauders” or Millions United under an ‘Overlapping Consensus’ to Topple Down the Government?

It has been almost a week since scores of protestors initiated a resistance movement (#DirenGezi) against the incumbent government and its anti-democratic discourse and practices. What had begun as a peaceful sit-down against the demolition of Gezi Park by a few hundred unfolded into massive anti-government demonstrations by hundreds of thousands, even millions across the country. The number of protestors has been soaring ever since despite or maybe due to the spontaneous and dynamic nature of the demonstrations. So has the level of police brutality and violence.

I was in Taksim and Beşiktaş the last few days starting from morning hours till late at night. I was one of the many who suffered from excessive police brutality, and I dare to say, state terrorism. The first water cannon and tear gas attack came in Siraselviler Street in Taksim, where we could at least seek shelter in side streets and nearby cafes, restaurants and houses. In Beşiktaş, however, we were caught unprepared and had nowhere to escape when the police tanks (known as TOMAs, or social intervention vehicles) marched towards unarmed and peaceful protestors and began firing tear gas bombs and water cannons randomly and incessantly at us. I saw thousands trying not to run over fellow protestors while running for their lives. I saw hundreds vomiting tear gas even hours after the TOMA attack, me being one of them.

But who are all these people anyway, suffocating under the thick smoke of tear gas? Why have they gone out to streets in the first place? Who mobilized them? Are they really “a bunch of marginal marauders… manipulated by the opposition” as the Turkish Prime Minister claims?

The simple answer is, NO!

Yesterday, at Gezi Park, my sister and I walked around the park and made spontaneous interviews with fellow protestors that we randomly picked, just to find out ‘who we were’. Amongst those that we talked were Kemalists, socialists, communists, ultra-nationalists, gays and lesbians, Armenians, Kurds, supporters of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), supporters of the Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi), women wearing headscarves, revolutionary Muslims, fans of big football clubs, just ordinary people of all ages, identities and socio-economic backgrounds. Except for the members of a few political party groups, no one had invited or mobilized them. Not all of them shared the same political ideology. To the contrary! Some held completely rival political views with other fellow protestors. Some were not politically oriented at all and did not refrain from admitting that. Most of them were participating in a mass demonstration for the first time in their lives, had brought their children, grandchildren or grandparents with them.

However, all of these protestors had a common denominator: there was ‘an overlapping consensus‘, albeit a silent one, uniting those that represented different ‘comprehensive doctrines” as John Rawls would put it, or who did not champion any doctrine. This is an overlapping consensus on the urgency to topple down the incumbent government and put an end to its anti-democratic practices. This is an overlapping consensus on the urgency to rebuild solidarity and re-forge social bonds amongst fellow citizens, which were long severed.

Turkish Prime Minister keeps saying, “… this is not merely about a couple of trees.. ” Ditto, Mr. Erdogan! Of course it isn’t. Looking at the past few days, I can safely say that it never actually was about a couple of trees. Just as it was never about “a bunch of marauders manipulated by” anyone! Millions are out there filling the streets of Turkey demanding you to step down.

Pin back your ears, Mr. Prime Minister!

Or else, it will be too late!

 

 

Turkish Spring has begun: People shout “Against Fascism we stand shoulder to shoulder”

A Norwegian agency has provided live coverage that shows police violence around the French Consulate side (entrance of Taksim Square). In front of them you can hear the people trying to enter the square. We were there yesterday as well.

Welcome to Turkey, welcome to Turkish Spring.

Since yesterday, Turkish people have been rising up and protesting. It started three days ago or so, with a sit-in protest by the public against the government’s unlawful plan to take Taksim Gezi Park and turn it into a residence and shopping mall. Protesters who were camping there were attacked with pepper gas at 5 am the day before. This led to public protests at Taksim and all over Istanbul, starting and continuing as a complete public and spontaneous protest of what all protesters call “the Turkish government’s fascist actions till this moment”. These latest of these include restrictions on the sale and promotion of alcohol. The prime minister explained that this was in line with religious orders, and that two drunken/alcoholic men permitted alcohol into the country, which seems to refer to Kemal Ataturk and Ismet Inonu, leaders of the Turkish Republic. Some big stores have already condemned the government’s actions and announced they will not put a store in the shopping mal. A court stopped the mall/residence bill last night last night, yet the court will also hear from the Minister of Culture to make its final decision.

I joined the protest at Taksim yesterday. None of us could actually reach Taksim Square, which was completely closed off to public by police continuously shooting pepper gas. But people remained, in all the arteries that led to the square in groups, pushing to enter the square, supporting each other, and protesting. Even blocks away from the center, we felt the presence of pepper gas, our eyes and throats burning. There was and still is great solidarity among people helping each other with lemons, vinegar clothes and milk. Divan Hotel and Harbiye Military Complex opened their doors to people who were injured, showing a solidarity of military and industrial sectors to this movement and that the escalated police violence is not accepted by many parts of society who might have been more silent or neutral previously.

We left Taksim around 10 pm and then returned at 12 am with a ferry full of people from the Anatolian side. We kept shouting slogans such as “shoulder to shoulder we stand against fascism” “the government shall resign!” and “everywhere is Taksim, everywhere there is resistance”

People came out to the streets, again completely organically till 4 am in all parts of Istanbul and Turkey.

I include here pictures from our street, Bagdat Street, a main avenue in the Anatolian side, where I would think about 10,000 walked, honked horns, and raised a great noise. I learned on the news this morning that they passed the Bosphorous Bridge on foot and cars, to the European side, where they were pepper gassed at Besiktas.

The protest continues today. The government shut down some means of public transport, and so people can’t gather and cross to the European side. Interestingly, Turkish mainstream media is not covering this much at all. There should have been live coverage in every channel.

This is a public movement, which the Turkish government will try to frame as provoked violence by what they have previously called “marginal groups”. The movement belongs to no organized group, there are groups in it from the left to the nationalist right, but no one takes dominance, and there are people from all walks of life and political persuasions. I saw many young people, middle-aged people, mothers with teenage children, everyone. All joined in bringing an end to what we see as a government which is trying to bring an Islamic type of rule (that I would call a neoliberal Islamic rule), and restricting its people’s rights and heavily injuring or killing those who use their civil rights to protest.

Please share and make sure all international media cover this mass movement and pressures the Turkish government to stop its violence against its own people.

Ayse Dayi
Founder and Collective Board member, Center for Transnational Women’s Issues

Where do the children live? Prison

I’ve been here for two weeks, and this is my third time in. I’m in the sixth grade. I was in placement but I ran away. They accused me of assault against my mom, but she scratched herself and said I did it. My dad lives in Atlanta and works in a barbershop. -E.Y., age 11 Juvenile Detention Center, Houston, Texas.

For the past forty years, the planet has been engaged in a global prison lockdown and a worldwide prison – building binge, which have resulted in the confinement of more women than ever before. This build up of lockdowns began in the United States in 1973, and has since blossomed, or mushroomed, into a global frenzy of incarceration of working class women of color and indigenous women.

The hyper-incarceration of women affects children, especially in those communities in which single women predominate as heads of households. The assault on children is more direct, however. At the same time that women, especially working class women of color and indigenous women, are being caged, their children are also being locked up as never before.

What is a child? A child is one’s offspring, a child is a minor. A child is a child, and tell me, where do the children live?

Given the prison boom, there are more offspring behind bars than ever before. Typically, the task and labor of maintaining social and sustaining contact is left to mothers, secondarily to female partners.  This is the lesson of Mothers Reclaiming Our Children, in California. When children are sent to prison, mothers are launched into a global reclamation and reconstruction project that, for many, never ends.

For example, Diana Montes-Walker’s son is an adult man in his 20s, living with bipolar disorder, complicated, predictably, by alcohol and drug dependencies. Equally predictably, her son `encountered’ the state criminal justice system, in this instance the California system. Ever since her son has been in prison, he has suffered one form or another of solitary confinement. Either he was in solitary in prison, or he was in solitary in so-called medical facilities that are actually prisons for inmates with `special needs’. In the latter, he is in solitary, but, according to his mother, with a little more freedom. He made it into the `better’ solitary confinement because his mother pushed, shoved, organized, shouted, wrote, met incessantly with everyone. And now, Diana Montes-Walker drives back and forth to scheduled meetings with doctors and social workers who don’t appear. And her son stays in solitary, and she has no idea how he’s doing.

Why is this happening to Diana Montes-Walker’s son, and so many others like him, young men and women living with mental disabilities and illnesses of one form or another? Why is he in prison? He is in prison because public mental health budgets have been shredded and then vaporized. Prisons are the new public mental health institutions. Meanwhile, Diana Montes-Walker, inhabits a State-sponsored hell, built because it’s more efficient to have her run around and take care of her son, more efficient and less costly.

Where do our children live? In prison.

In Turkey, close to 500 children live in prison with their mothers, who have been convicted. Why are they in prison? “Financial difficulties”.  For the children, three to six, there might be a kindergarten. For those under three years old, they spend the entire time in the cell with their mothers. These children are not in prison because of their mothers’ “financial difficulties”. They are in prison because of the moral and ethical bankruptcy of the State and because of the social structures that support that State.

Because of `financial difficulties’, Mississippi’s one juvenile detention center is run by a private corporation, the GEO Group. According to parents of the children being held there, the place is a horror, another State-sponsored hell. Fights break out, and the staff ignores calls for help and protection. Worse, the staff is accused of brutalizing children. Parents gaze upon their wounded and maimed children and feel a pain they describe as torturous. The lawyers describe the prison as barbaric and unconstitutional. The children describe the place as a war zone.

War zone is too nice a phrase for a place in which civilians are butchered for profit.  Child prisoners, children’s bodies and lives, bloat the coffers of private industry. They are an extractive resource whose market value continues to grow. Where do the children live? They live, and often die, in prison.

 

(Photo Credit: Richard Ross, Juvenile In Justice http://richardross.net/juvenile-in-justice)