Women Prisoners: Speaking Truth to Power

What a man is like

Sirius Black: the prisoner of Azkaban

About a week ago, Toni Wood, a Criminology PhD student, asked a twitter friend for recommendations to blogs by former women prisoners and I noticed her request as it came onto my timeline. She was wanting material to give to her students. I can resist anything but temptation so, as a former management trainer and formerly “dangerous” woman prisoner with some bitter experiences of research into women prisoners, I bit. Whilst I don’t restrict pawprintsofthesoul to prison issues, there are prison-experience blogs in my archives and one of them threw psychological research of women prisoners to a pride of hungry lions. It’s an interesting test of a criminologist’s character, that blog; how they respond tests their professional ethics on a number of different levels.

Firstly; there is a personal response. Do they believe me or do they think I’m making it up? How do they respond to a former woman prisoner speaking out the way I did in that blog? How would they feel, as a professional working inside a women’s prison if a woman prisoner spoke out that way to them personally? Toni is the kind of criminologist who says “That’s exactly what I’m looking for!” and later, when I inquired of her success in finding blogs, she invited me to guest lecture her students sometime in 2015. This is a CJS (Criminal Justice System) professional I can do business with any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I’ve said yes, providing my heart is up to it – I’ve recently experienced indicators of further heart failure and it’s around the same time of year as the last two times.  Since I can’t assume upon my earthly presence even unto next year, I might just as well start my guest lecturing now.

The second ethical test in the blog is about the kind of power Sirius Black understood in theory but struggled, like many, to put into practice especially with Kreacher. There is a very clear choice to be made in the Criminology ‘biz’, from police to probation, having passed through the courts and, in my case, almost five years of prison; can you see the human being beneath the labels or not? Are you open to learning or are you likely to be unsuited to working with women prisoners? This is a vitally important issue for women prisoners at the moment.

My imprisonment ended with sentence in 2010, just before this Coalition government came to power. The Criminal Justice System may have benefited from having Ken Clarke at the helm for a while but the ravages wrought by Grayling have turned the HMPS Mens’ Estate into a hellhole. I notice a deafening silence from the Women’s Estate (as usual) which will mean conditions are worse and will have deteriorated significantly since my departure. Google “prison conditions, England and Wales” – see for yourself. If Toni’s students have notions about working with women prisoners, let’s make it very plain what you are about to walk into. Whatever you think you know about prison, or prisoners, you don’t – unless you’ve been a woman prisoner. Every woman who has ever been held in prison has a degree-level experiential knowledge of how the CJS really works; long-term women prisoners have experiential doctorates of reality in it and black/brown/foreign national/Muslim women prisoners have the most thorough knowledge of all. They know a great deal more than I do. I hope, by sharing this information, some of my former black women prisoner friends might feel inspired to offer up their own unique dose of authentic reality in order to smash through the inevitable preconceptions people bring to the realms of feminine criminology in England and Wales in 2014.

Let’s be clear on one thing, though. As our tales unfold, perhaps you’ll begin to understand the depth of the truth reported by Baroness Corston, that 80% of women in prison in England and Wales shouldn’t be there.

You students, imprisoned by your tutor to listen to me, are the future for these women. Toni opened a door for me to speak to you. Excuse me while I widen this doorway for all my peers who have something to say too. We’re tired of your tickboxes. They’re too small to accommodate us and remain sane. Corston said the Prison Service was a system designed by men for men. Well, continuing to implement that idea lawfully is going to run out in a few months. Ten years – that’s what Jean Corston gave us to change the prison/CJS system to accommodate women prisoner’s needs. When you get a chance to visit a real prison, take a look around and check out how well you think that plan is working out. Then ask yourself: what are you entering this profession for? To uphold it… or help to transform it? This is the truth I am speaking power to – our future and what you might help us make of ours if you could only learn to be kind.

The best professional, compassionate working standard I was ever was given by one of the very best woman prison officers I ever met (that HMP Low Newton had a huge bouquet of them but there were some stunning blossoms in HMP Durham’s F-Wing and New Hall’s Segregation Unit). We were chatting about the attitude and approach different prison officers had towards prisoners and she told me she treated the lasses the way she hoped all prison officers might treat her own daughter if she wound up inside. Whilst some might bridle at the assumed maternity, remember she was speaking in a deeply patriarchally-cruel environment. We were of a similar mature age too; for me, she was a good friend in need on more than one occasion. Any ‘sins’ committed are forgiven for her simple human kindness and concern. If you are youthful students, agewise (soul-wise is an entirely different matter), you will not be able to get away with that but the women prisoners you encounter will still be in need of the kindness inherent in her intent. If you can’t find it within you to allow the worst prisoner of all at least one chance to show you who she is now, rather than the money-spinning stories you’ve been ‘colonised’ into accepting as true, then you are not fit to work with women prisoners.

We all have our ‘stories’. They are not the same as the ones you believe to be true, especially if you’ve gleaned your notions from the mainstream media. It really isn’t a good idea to put too much faith in our MSM, .especially given the absence of journalistic ethics now seemling replaced by monetary favour, coupled with a crippled and corrupted Justice system overseen by the most right-wing monetary government coup in Westminster I could have thought possible. Ethics is no longer of any particular interest as far as the reach of their intent is concerned. This type of attitude pervades the CJS especially where women prisoners are concerned.

What kind of changes do you think the CJS needs to make to remedy the harm that’s been done? Or, alternatively, you could try something original and ask the lasses themselves what they think they need. Remember, my information is five years out of date – things have changed for the much worse since then.


Oscar Wilde – convicted prisoner

Gaza: Searching for the long trail out of Hell


Silent, so silent now, Now the guns have stopped. I have survived all, I who knew I would not. But now you are not here. I shall go home alone; And must try to live life as before And hide my grief. For you, my dearest friend, who should be with me now, Not cold too soon, And in your grave, Alone. (from "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace" by Karl Jenkins)

Silent, so silent now,
Now the guns have stopped.
I have survived all,
I who knew I would not.
But now you are not here.
I shall go home alone;
And must try to live life as before
And hide my grief.
For you, my dearest friend,
who should be with me now,
Not cold too soon,
And in your grave,
(“Now that the guns have stopped” from “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” by Karl Jenkins)


It’s a strangely human phenomenon; when, after we have stood at the very gates of Hell itself and survived, we somehow expect our lives to go back to ‘normal’, even though we know we have been changed beyond all recognition by our experiences and the evidence of that truth lies in the wreckage surrounding us. Having followed the war in Gaza on twitter from the comparative safety of my own home in the UK, now I bear witness to this strange and agonising expectation arising from the hearts of those who survived.


There is recognition that the harm inflicted on Gaza has affected people emotionally but it is usually framed in mental health terms, as if contemporary psychological theories and practices offer sufficient remedies for releasing the emotional impact of the experience. Personally, I have found such well-meaning interventions to be as effective as an elastoplast for such soul-threatening psychological injuries – I appreciate the thought but it’s simply not enough. So what might genuinely assist the journey back from our face-to-face encounter with Death? I don’t have answers; only my own experience to draw upon and this is written in the hope that there might be something useful for the friends I have made in Gaza over the last few weeks.


HealingThe experience of facing our own personal death affects us at every level; mind, emotions and soul. This is true whether the encounter is by chance or, as in Gaza, as a result of human hatred-in-action. When I speak of ‘soul’, I am referring to our existential self – the part that continues to exist after all else has been stripped away from who we are. My experiences of mainstream mental health suggest that most methodologies are unable to process these depths. In matters of soul – our existential selves – only the wisdom of Spirit has the power to heal such wounds. It doesn’t require religion, per se; it requires understanding and valuing the ‘essence’ inhabiting all Life, including our own.


So what happens to our soul when we are subject to the kind of lethal, hate-filled and devastating attacks upon our very existence, our homes, family, society and lives? The explanation that worked for me comes from indigenous wisdom: we experience a ‘shattering of the Soul’. Our souls are eternal, powerful and infinitely strong but… our soul is also fragile. Subject a soul to the kind of abuse seen in Gaza and it will shatter into tiny pieces. We experience this process as ‘shock’ – what was previously whole breaks with horror and grief. It is important to remember that this is a ‘normal’ process, as our essence strives to embrace the entirety of our experience – we become bigger than we were before as our soul seeks to grow into new understanding. The danger, however, is that if we are not careful, some of the parts of our soul fail to return to the new soul constellation we are seeking to create. This is known as ‘Soul Loss‘.


Soul loss is first and foremost an adaptive mechanism that usually serves by allowing us to cope, and in some situations survive a terrible experience, in which the dissociated soul parts depart, carrying the pain, the shock, the extreme emotion, or the memory of the trauma which may be simply unbearable to the sufferer at the time it occurs.

Symptoms of profound and ongoing soul loss frequently manifest as feelings of being fragmented, of not being all there; blocked memory or not being able to remember parts of one’s life; a sudden onset of apathy or listlessness, or a lack of joy in life; the inability to make decisions; the inability to feel love for others or receive love from another, often resulting in the sense of being emotionally flat-lined. The loss of these parts of the self is often expressed as despair, as suicidal tendencies, as addictions, or most often-as depression.

Without doubt, all those who experienced #GazaUnderAttack will be suffering from ‘Soul Shatter’. It has been only two days since the guns fell silent – the shattering within will be reaching it’s maximum as our essence defines the new size and shape of our soul-size within. We will know enough to understand that we are forever changed; that the person we were before no longer exists and all that is left is to pick up the pieces as we move on through the experience. This awareness promotes compassion as we learn to stop expecting any return to our previous ‘normal’ and begin the long journey towards creating a new norm. But how do we find the right path?


Noone is too oldThe wisdom of the Soul will not be found in standard mental health textbooks – those deal with mind and emotions only. The soul cannot be approached directly, as poets, artists, lovers, story-tellers and musicians have been showing us for millennia. Each individual soul is unique – what will be effective for one will prove useless to another because we each shatter differently, so we need to uncover and reveal as many different poems, songsstories and creativity as possible to enable each to choose what is right for us. Such creations that show us that others have also stood in that place of Death and returned to tell the tale.


The ‘secret’ to beginning the return journey – which is frequently longer and more painful than the outward one – is creativity. To create is to choose Life. Our shattered aspects of Soul are drawn to that ‘Life Light’. As we create, so different aspects of our essence return to us with the wisdom of their journey. In my own experience of this process, each returning aspect seemed to be coated in the ‘darkness of destruction’ that shattered me and I needed to allow my emotions full expression – whether they be rage or, more often, grief – to rinse away this coating and reveal the tender wounded vulnerability beneath. I don’t quite understand how this deeper process functions but it seems that it is our very vulnerability that enables healing to occur. Failing to reach through the darkness may result in a more permanent form of Soul Loss because we fail to access these healing powers – in such instances, a practitioner in the skills of Soul Retrieval may prove effective.


"Still I'll Rise" - Maya Angelou

“Still I’ll Rise” – Maya Angelou

In dissolving and rinsing away the darkness is where mental health professionals come into their own. The emotions of our destroyed selves are deep and infinitely painful. They cannot be ordered or controlled, only contained by compassion and acceptance and greeted with unconditional loving regard. The ‘darkness’ is undifferentiated when it first emerges into our awareness – it is frequently ugly, unwanted, rejected and we may attempt to abandon it; unfortunately we abandon ourselves when we do. If we appreciate that this darkness seeks acceptance and understanding, allowing the flow of accompanying emotions full expression in a creative way, we begin a relationship with our inner being that enables us to move past the blockages to soul healing and discover the new gifts hidden within. Remember, our soul is evolving, becoming greater, growing us to be able to embrace our selves in within a new creation. Each involuntary step we took to face Death and the destruction of our lives as we knew them (I have never met anyone who made that journey voluntarily!) is mirrored during our return, where each step we means we are choosing Life.


At this extremely early stage of ‘recovery’, I am reluctant to say more. The return journey is not mine this time – this is being undertaken by a whole community. The path cannot be the same. What I am trying to express, though, is that it is a journey that can be understood. There exist ‘maps’ of these soul paths that can provide, at the very least, a guide-rope through the debris of what went before.


I have great faith in the ability of the artists and creators of Gaza because you seem to know this intuitively.


Gaza rebirth


A Beginner’s Guide to #Ethics in UK Public Life



Every so often, the UK government finds itself mired in scandals of sleaze and corruption. At present, we have a return of allegations that the UK Parliament is ‘home’ to a ‘ring’ of high-profile child sex abusers; there are lingering allegations of continued expenses fraud; and today both the Guardian and Huff Post report that the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee into Standards in Public Life  is saying “MPs should be required to undergo an induction course to teach them about the seven principles of public life that are meant to promote openness and honesty.”

For those unfamiliar with the Seven Principles of Public Life, you can find more information here.


So why are ethics so  important? From the perspective of a member of a presently socially-exiled social class, this is one HUGE reason as far as I am concerned:

Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who refuse treatment for depression

We can be grateful to Dr. Sarah Wollaston, former GP now Conservative MP for Totnes, Brixham and the South Hams, – who clearly does understand the role of ethics in public life – to provide the appropriate professional response to the above.

FireShot Screen Capture #006 - 'Twitter _ drwollastonmp_ Presumably this complete tosh ___' - twitter_com_drwollastonmp_status_488078746042519552

She elaborates on the issue of ethics in this report.


So given that the UK has existing standards of behaviour for public and elected officials, how is it possible that the Department of Work & Pensions floats ideas in the press that are clearly and plainly professionally unethical? Well, perhaps this might explain it:


A report by the committee pointed to reports that fewer than one in five of those elected for the first time in 2010 attended even one induction session, and one on dealing with ethical dilemmas was cancelled when too few signed up….

It said it understood that the issue was “delicate” as many elected representatives saw being taught ethics as “impugning their integrity and their common sense”…





What we can be certain of, at this juncture, is that the ‘common-sense’ and ‘integrity’ of many present incumbents of public office in Westminster leaves a great deal to be desired, and this is a cross-party problem likely to be best resolved by a cross-party solution.


I believe that the casual breaching of ethics in public life by many of our parliamentarians lies at the heart of the social problems currently being created by the same. Whilst we have – as a country – tried to address this problem in the past, our attempts have clearly been unsuccessful because here we are again. The question in my mind is how do we manage the problem now?


As with any other ‘disciplinary’ problem, it is important to restate the standards likely to be applied. The Seven Standards of Public Life have been around for a while now but I wonder whether their importance has been framed correctly for our recalcitrant MP’s?

This is the frame I would use were I to be writing/delivering a training course on the topic. In addition to the reminder that those with public responsibilities are answerable to the public, I’d echo the Committee on Public Standards’ warning that those who fail to adhere to these are likely to find themselves deselected or recalled at best, or jailed at worst. Election or appointment to parliament does not come with a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card and failings in our personal public responsibility may well be punishable by the courts. In addition, those reluctant to apply the Seven Standards to their own behaviour could find themselves embarrassed by other public servants refusing to comply with orders they regard as unlawful.


Ceasar Chavez


Whilst I am certain the models used above are imperfect, they still provide a sound-enough foundation of the ethical principles that inform all professionals, whilst allowing for variations depending upon the exigencies of individual professions. When we start to see cross-professional ethical violations in matters of public political life (as with the DWP’s ‘forced therapy’ proposal which violated the ethics of both GP’s and mental health professionals), those of us who understand the issue’s importance need to ask ourselves what we intend to do about it.


Ethical violations are harmful to the point of criminality and beyond, wherever they may occur. When such violations are occurring in public life, the harm to the public will be extensive. As someone who could be personally affected by a DWP ‘forced therapy’ requirement, I have my own personal response to the Ministers of that department (past, present and future):

Forward Planning and

Atos and the Day of Judgment

Whilst the above were prepared for an impending WCA, the principles remain virtually unchanged because my response was designed to confront existing ethical violations within the DWP.  In addition, I’ve contacted and briefed my own MP on the matter because, in my own understanding of applying these principles, when we are faced with clear evidence of ethical violations, we must respond forcefully and vigorously to both correct and prevent them because they are always harmful to vulnerable others. I’m lucky my MP understands this; just as all those benefits recipients experiencing depression are fortunate to have a former GP in the House who understands ethics and abides by the Seven Standards, regardless of political hue.


This blog is for all those who want to understand the ethics involved and why they are so vital to public life, up to and including all those MP’s who missed out on their induction to public standard ethics after 2010. Perhaps those readers who think these are standards worth applying to our contemporary public life might bring them to the attention of their own MP’s. Any who persist in their failure to respect these standards, erroneously believing that ‘it doesn’t apply to me’, will still be measured by them, if not by their peers then certainly by their constituents. We don’t want them to complain they weren’t warned!


It really is time we all remembered how we are supposed to behave when faced with those whose behaviour is unethical.


What will you do?




#LetsTalk Conversations with new activists #women2gether

Colorado river reaches sea for first time in decades

Colorado river reaches sea for first time in decades (Image: Sonoran Institute and LightHawk)


Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison


Women2gether are attracting supporters. I’ve had wonderful twitter conversations with some of you – you have been a delight to encounter; thank you for your generosity of both self and spirit. Yet, to some extent, we might look as though we were failing at the first hurdle:  it takes some extraordinary event, like no-one at all turning up to our Sunday ‘meeting’, to illustrate it. There’s also the issue of why so few responded to Jane & Debbie’s petition – start putting the ‘gestalt’ together in that way and we might all just as well pack up our efforts and head sadly away. That’s, of course, dependent upon what kind of ‘thinking’ you are using.


I wonder if the version that leads you to this kind of mind-set bears any comparison with this?

from Halifax Herald

from Halifax Herald


Notice how self-centred and ego-ridden this viewpoint is.  In fact, it’s the same kind of thinking that led me to do this.  If we are going to challenge and confront this thinking then, in order to get a much broader perspective and arrive at more accurate assessment on the reality of where we are, we have to entertain more diverse opinions and viewpoints. “I, for one, am certainly NOT the Queen”, for example, can do wonders in moving outside this lethal box of rich white male cloudcuckooland and into our own reality.


One of the things Jayne, Debbie and I were very clear about, from the outset of women2gether, was our own physical and psychological frailty. We knew there would be times like this so, intuitively, we planned ahead with our honesty. When I get ‘news’ that our Sunday meeting was in spirit only, I don’t see this as disaster – I see it as a conversation we’ve not had yet about what we three witches mean when we talk about being ‘activists’.




A number of folk have commented on the absence of ego in the way we work together. This kind of behaviour – both practical and psychological – is a sign of an experienced activist because, at some point, we all get the ego knocked out of us. It’s based upon a set of assumptions and consequences imposed by our real-life circumstances (my version).


The first ‘rule’ of activism is that we leave other folk alone to make their own decisions. This is based on the following assumptions, whoever you are; however you are ‘packaged'; whatever internal psychic structures you use; and everything that defines you as a human being, means;

  • You know how to make up your own free mind
  • The only time you don’t is when your free mind has been tampered with by others.
  • If you want to kill the activist spirit, you tell other folk what to do and try to control their actions.
  • You know an activist by their behaviour – we don’t wait for permission if we see an opportunity to help ‘the people’.
  • Every single one of us started our activist career as absolute beginners!


And we rode on the wings of the tales of older – and more realistic – activists; not because they led us (although sometimes they did if we got lost) but to help us over the pitfalls involved.


It took us a week to organise a spontaneous walk-out

Nalgo Conference c 1980’s


Even then, speaking from experience, it can take much longer. The difference between followers and activists is followers assume failure and give up very early on in any ‘game’ that is not specifically about them  – activists keep an eye on the ball of ‘all of us’ instead. Also, notice who benefits if the ‘failure assumption’ is held to be real?


Can you begin to see how your attitudes may have been tampered with? So, how do we fix this problem? Quite simple really – do a reality check!


For example:

As a newbie activist, ask yourself these questions: who is your membership? Be specific. There are activists in all areas – what’s your specialty; who do you prioritize? Mine are women first and then all those impacted by the WCA.

This doesn’t mean I sacrifice my concern for everyone – it simply means I know where my roots are.  Once we know that, we represent the views of that group in our own activist work to ensure our voices are included when we rewrite a  Harperworld Mindset to include us as human under Human Rights law.  The consequences of adversity are as complex as the causative action is simple – we need as many voices as need to speak. There are four million people negatively affected by these undemocratic and forced economic crimes against humanity. It shouldn’t be that hard to prove now, surely?! Where are their voices?


When we know our roots – and these change with time, as do we – it’s easy to gauge the mood, especially when your ‘membership’ are restive and nothing seems to be being done about it. This trigger motivates our actions, so whenever inspiration or opportunity arrives, we say Yes to the experience of giving it a try to see if it works. That’s all it is. That’s all we do. Because we’ve said yes on so many occasions we’ve got practical experience but that doesn’t mean we know what we’re doing now, other than catching the mood of our ‘membership’ and acting on it. For example:

It was my own wider WCA membership who triggered my letter to the ICC (still no reply but I found the answers I was looking for: there is a way in). Then came Jayne and Debbie’s new petition – this is their activist spirit at work. They created and I threw my weight behind it because it represented the views of my membership. The surprising lack of numbers is as informative as our Spirit Sunday meeting ;)




The only problem I can see in the situation is a missing conversation with all of you. So that’s what this blog is about. Folk don’t seem to be talking about it much. When they do, the conversation always seems to fall flat, so – fellow activists – we either read our membership wrong or there’s a ‘blockage’ somewhere. So, let’s talk about it what we think it might be – share your experience; blog about it as part of Women2gether, especially the lads. How are you finding it so far? Writing it down actually helps your learning process and helps us understand which areas of our expertise are most useful to you. This isn’t about us; this is about all of us!




Testing current theories, at this stage, can be also useful. Given the situation is serious enough to create activists out of us…


I was thinking about this governments schadenfreude – motivation for the vindictive policies we’ve seen this past 4 years that target the most vulnerable citizens most of all. Some people believe that the policies are a consequence of a redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the wealthy rather than being malicious acts. But the tories laughed on hearing the accounts of suffering of the poor because of the bedroom tax and the food banks in parliament,for all to see.

But entertaining the idea for a moment that the inflicted suffering isn’t a motivation but a consequence, well that would make the bastards indifferent, callous and unremorseful, since they show a supreme lack of concern for the plight of those least able to defend themselves against injustice and inflicted poverty, Either way, I know evil when I see it, and this government ARE evil. The shock and anger at recognising that again just hit me afresh.

We must each be responsible and work to get rid of this evil presence, and taint on our collective history. If we remain silent and indifferent, that makes us complicit in their evil

Sue Jones


A balanced judgement weighs all the options first before coming to a decision based upon the evidence. As an activist, I ask myself, if this isn’t enough, how much more to I need? Then I ask:  ‘How serious is it?’ What do others think? Everywhere on the planet, I see women breaking the spell of the various HarperWorlds and finding genocide underneath. I see my own WCA membership heading in the ICC’s direction. Every socially-responsible free-thinking individual on my twitter-feed  seems to be treading similar paths, whatever their political hue. And some of us have tried already – such evidence supports our contention of crimes against humanity occurring in Britain have a grounding in fact.




When a bunch of us activists agree the evidence is in that we are, indeed, living in very dangerous times, we can’t afford to wait on others to decide what needs to be done. We act on our own initiative because the likelihood of HarperWorld trying to control us is extremely high. We can loosen this control on a personal level by self-determining what needs to be done and what contribution we can realistically make.


Women2gether – and then men who love us – here are our problems: Jayne, Debbie & me. We can’t tell you what to do because a volunteer is worth fifty conscripts, or so I’ve been told by a man who knew. A volunteer looks around for the places they feel happiest in and offers those – what do you think needs doing? Do you need help doing it? Is  there a particular kind of help you offer ? Do you need to set clear boundaries on what (and how) we pass on in our information and sharing? For example: None of us will tolerate bigotry in any form and particularly any type of xenophobia or misogyny. We are all unique expressions of what it is to be human. Whilst the mindset we are trying to deal with says some have more value than others, the one we are aiming for says quite the opposite and always has done – remember the river at the beginning? Has your river been ‘redirected’? You don’t need to be told what to do because you already know.




The difference between Harperworld (or what ever other fantasy the ego has power to inflict upon others) and human reality is this: Harperworld has to enforce its dictates and has no problem with the consequences so long as they do well out of it. Seek evidence of compassion and mercy in this mindset; I find none. It’s absence points to the presence of evil, a form of dualistic thinking being applied to the planet itself, let alone all the Peoples dwelling within Her. The presence of dualistic thinking – them and us – points to the existence of the opposite. It has to – that’s the Law in a dualistic world – there is always a balance.


Harperworld claims to hold the unbalanced monopoly of thought on our collective reality and, to a greater or lesser extent, we have fallen for it  because it has become the means of survival in the West. To transform and bring balance to the issue suggests we need to ‘become’ everything this polarity is not. That mindset issues orders; we don’t. Neither are we perfect; every one of us is the human expression of a living-artwork-in-progress, created by our histories, intuitions, thoughts, feelings and evidenced in the actions we take; the words we write; and our desire to protect those that we love, on every single level it seems.




We are going to make mistakes with each other. Mistakes, especially at the beginning, are learning experiences for all of us because they help us shake off the mindset we’ve been slowly shackled to by the like of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (another ‘buffoon’ like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and, in his early days, Adolf Hitler).  That kind of mindset is Harperworld and it only ever heads in one direction. This is not the direction we go in. Nevertheless, we also need to be sensitive to the abuses we have all experienced as a result of the social exclusions we have been subjected to. These are unhealed wounds especially among women who have borne the brunt of them. This is why bigotry is forbidden among us – it’s classified as harmful to the complexity of our community. It is permitted to exclude those who disagree with our existence because they exclude themselves by their exclusivity. Simple. This ‘Law’ was established in evidence at the very outset. It also accords with human law.



There are those who, for whatever reason, choose to remain asleep. These are the people being led. The power to act therefore resides with activists – especially when voting. Getting up to vote is what the likes of UKIP thinkers and provoked sheeple will be doing. Let’s at least ask any activist (voting means you’re active) to register their opinion too, particularly for the disenfranchised amongst us, like the homeless. Let’s encourage hungry women with hungry children to vote too – give their opinion of politicians who think austerity is an excellent thing and we ought to have more of it.




Meanwhile, I’m still not well enough to go through the ICC procedures. If our women2gether activists want to go through them, that might be a good idea because they set the standards we have to work to. All the procedures are there. My thoughts, on why our last petition might have ‘failed’ is that it needed to explicitly include everyone – all ‘genders’, all issues. To get through the Prosecutor’s door, we need to do it without exclusivity. Nevertheless, our framework needs to keep everyone happy, like: we’re test-driving this new Gender policy to make sure the ICC listens to women on our terms because, if they can’t hear us, there’s a problem with the ICC.



Activists always read procedures at least once because we need to see what we’re going to be measured by. The more we know about the ‘how’, the more we understand about route, standards and evidence gathering.  Their aim is to elicit as much about what fails to achieve this as it does aiming to achieve a criminal standard of evidence from women. As we become more aware of how women’s voices have been silenced at all levels, as well as the depth of the very real consequences, we become more competent as activists. After I learned the ‘sacred’ principles underpinning ‘legal’ written procedures, the ground I stood upon as an activist became much more solid. This is could excellent learning for ‘newbies’ and anyone else interested in this stuff.



Finally, thank you for reading this far. Any ‘confusion’ in this is entirely my responsibility. As new activists, take only what is useful to you – we build our own toolbox because we’re each unique. We also know when to stop – which is why I have to have ‘stopped’. I need to do pay attention to ‘group process’ before I go any further because, as an individual, I’m already stumbling.


So I ask of you: where do you think we should go next? Think we should stop now or do we want to carry on? Perhaps this is the conversation we needed that’s been  missing. If it isn’t, what do you think might need to happen now? The harmful are included on any planning because they form the problem, solution and evidence. In fact, like our own, their existence must be included if we are to be at all balanced. We are not like them, remember – our behaviour is different. What we do have is a not-so-successful-it-seems history of ‘managing’ it and we left a few Laws behind the last time we did.

In solidarity






The great UKIP calamity continues with Scriptonite: ‘It’s on, Farage, it’s on’



As an independent blogger myself, I urge ALL of us to read BOTH posts in full.

These are dangerous times… and dangerous measures, like having and expressing our own opinions freely, MUST be taken.

Solidarity with genuinely free-thinking UK bloggers everywhere!

Originally posted on Vox Political:


Vox Political‘s comrade-in-blogging at Scriptonite has stepped into the fray, siding with fellow bloggers against UKIP’s attempts to censor us and curtail our freedom of speech.

It’s impossible to reblog Scriptonite, but the article begins: “The UK Independence Party (UKIP) dropped all pretense as a Libertarian party this week when they brought in police and lawyers to threaten bloggers who shared a ‘fact check’ leaflet of UKIP’s policies.  Our response needs to be defiant, let’s get this leaflet around the country and the world” [meaning the image at the top of the article].

You can (and should) read the rest of the piece here.

The most notable part is the following, which indicates the strength of feeling currently prevalent in the blogosphere about UKIP and the appalling behaviour of its members and supporters: “Unless you believe that the nation is truly full of bigots and homophobes who…

View original 302 more words

#LetsTalk Conversation with an Organ-grinder #women2gether


Open Email (because I have no resources print this off) to:


The Office of Mrs. Fatou Bensouda,

Chief Prosecutor – International Criminal Court,

Po Box 19519
2500 CM, The Hague
The Netherlands




Dear Madam/Sir,


Global Economic Gender Crimes against Humanity affecting Women and Children


This is to notify your office that the above matter is now being opened for discussion amongst women at a global level.


I refer to both the recently published Draft Policy on Sexual and Gender-based Crimes, together with the introduction of the new Prosecutor’s Code of Conduct, as I believe both documents contain tools that will enable women to overcome earlier legal and economic impediments which prevented our viewpoint from being heard by the Court in a fair and proper manner.


The general outline of the matter we wish to raise is here and may, if my assessments contain any legal accuracy, implicate the Court in further similar crimes towards women by its failure to ensure that our lawful objections were given equal access to the Court.


Given that the women’s case for economic gender crimes against humanity occurring is now at a global level, and given I am suggesting there may be very serious allegations concerning the Court’s own conduct in the matter, I am writing to enquire how our various representatives’ of women globally – both legal and activist – might best approach your office and present the evidence we would like you to consider.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours faithfully,



Dee Wilde-Walker



#LetsTalk: Important New Procedural Information for #Womens Activists #global




For all activists working on behalf of women everywhere, this is to share some recent global procedural changes at the International Criminal Court in the Hague in case you haven’t seen them. I suspect they could prove extremely useful to us all.




The information came to light as a result of campaigning with #women2gether – a group of British women activists who have emerged as a result of campaigns representing the needs of poor, sick and disabled under austerity.

[For seeking deeper background, the rabbithole is here:

#women2gether began with this post from my colleague, Jayne Linney:


Seeing another petition to the ICC resulted in our doing this:


(Please note: the examples referred to in the petition are neither exclusive or exhaustive – they were used only for illustrating the principle issue of  austerity as a crime against humanity)


In response, a disability activist colleague – Samuel Miller – posted this about his experiences with the ICC and UN:


This is my ‘reply’ to his information:



It led me to take a further look at the ICC itself and its behaviour/decisions. This is what I found following a brief search:



(Please note how the women’s arguments are gaslighted, derailed, distracted, silenced and otherwise victim-blamed by legal and media commentaries.  Note, too,  the general assumption that there is no alternative to austerity).

We are not the only European women with similar opinions who are acting on them:







New Information:


As a result, I did another brief search of the ICC itself and it is this information particularly that I am aiming to draw to the attention of  global women activists (and the men who support us):


Firstly; past behaviour of the court shows clear evidence that its actions and decisions are  systemically and institutionally racist. Take a look at this:


There is no way anyone can convince me that crimes against humanity on this planet occur only in Africa. So the assumption that all other world governments – especially those led by white men – can be assumed to behave lawfully is clearly unsafe because it’s not supported by evidence. However…


Secondly: The ICC has a very interesting new Chief Prosecutor: Mrs Fatou Bensouda, of The Gambia, who took up her appointment on 15 June 2012. It is reasonable to assume that Mrs. Bensouda was not in overall charge of the case management of  Greek austerity, because the case was already up and running when she was appointed.


Thirdly:  Since her arrival in office, the ICC has published TWO new protocols – one applied and one in draft:

Code of Conduct for the office of the Prosecutor.pdf  (effective from 5th September 2013)


DRAFT Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender Based Crimes, February 2014 – OTP-draft-policy-paper-February2014-Eng.pdf


I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know the finer points of all this, but when we apply general Human Rights principles – which the Court exists to uphold – using the measures contained in both the Prosecutors’ Code and the Draft Policy, the problems we know are there become very apparent.


Activist Observations:


I’ve only perused these briefly as potential working tools for activists but I’m already impressed and see a number of very worthwhile opportunities worth testing. Personally, I would like to see ‘test-runs’ of BOTH procedures to check if they actually work for women.


I can also see opportunities to accuse the Court itself of gender crimes against humanity because, in their Greek austerity ruling, the following occurred:

1. The ICC only considered a very limited male view of the economic situation as ‘legitimate’. Women’s experience and evidence was ‘overlooked’ in favour of a very small but extremely wealthy interest-group who have vested interests in the case of austerity’s impact on women remaining unheard, despite incontrovertible evidence that the cumulative  impact is systemically lethal to both us and our children.

2. The ICC failed to address the serious economic inequalities of the presenting protagonists and take these into account. It did nothing to equalize this discrepancy in representation:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/k7lk42 < (Women ought to recognise this situation only too well)

The  derogation of  the Court’s duty to ensure equality of resources for the legal representation of women cannot but result in anything other than an unsafe judgement. These were economically-deprived-by-intent non-legal professional women presenting legal arguments against well-trained and richly-rewarded lawyers aiming to excuse the ‘accused’ from their social duties and responsibilities towards women in their political and economic decision-making.  Under Human Rights standards, there is no way this could ever be regarded as a ‘fair’ hearing.

3. In only ‘recognising’ the men’s legal arguments around austerity  – already known to be deeply prejudiced against women in Britain alone – the Court excluded and silenced our voices and experiences, at a time when we can be shown to be carrying the greatest consequences, up to and including the violation of ALL our human rights.

If my interpretation is correct, this then renders the Court culpable in aiding and abetting economic gender-based crimes against humanity. The evidence shouldn’t be hard to find in events since this ruling was made.

4. In doing all of the above, as well as additionally and apparently participating in the gaslighting and legal mockery of the Greek women appellants, the Court took it’s eye off the ball of “Crimes Against Humanity” and colluded with silencing the viewpoint and experience of women,  derailing it into a legal cul-de-sac, where more general lawful principles of whether imposed economic austerity constitutes a crime against the majority of humanity was sidelined and silenced too. These principles – which the Court exists to uphold – appear to have been discounted in favour of legalistic arguments aimed apportioning blame and relieving government officials of their public duties or responsibilities to ALL the nationals they are answerable to. This is particularly the case in Europe, when ECHR lays these requirements down on those national governments forming a part of the EEC.

5. If my activist arguments have any traction, none of the above will accord with the Articles of Rome, which intends for women to have an equal voice in what constitutes crimes against humanity. Again, if my assessment is at all accurate, we ought to have tangible legal evidence pouring out of every orifice!

As both a woman and an activist, my own response is that can fuck off back wherever it came from, together with the corruption it rode in on.




From my own perspective, I can see any number of possible new opportunities for women in these developments, not just locally but globally. Additionally, it seems as though the ICC prosecutor is seeing exactly the same issues. Whilst us Brits will pursue our own activities, since this is a global problem we’re all experiencing, I believe it’s vital to share this.


When 90 percent of Iceland’s women went on strike in 1975

When 90 percent of Iceland’s women went on strike in 1975


Final thought:


One small thought about how the global women’s  situation might be resolved…


In the case of economic austerity, there does seem to be one simple solution in redressing the crimes against women and children. It particularly appeals to me because I can just imagine the reaction from the very small minority affected by it:

Economic inequality is very well recorded; the difference between the wealth of, literally, a handful of men and most women – globally – is so great as to be hard to actually conceive, even in the face of the evidence.




If we can prove there are gender crimes against humanity and have this ruled in the ICC, we’d have to consider arguments as to how it could be resolved. Taking a look at existing evidence, I’d say fifty-percent of  all humanity’s global wealth presently in the control of private interests was stolen from women… and we want it back. If men want to play hierarchies with their part of economy that’s their business – impoverished women have our own, very different, priorities that urgently need tending to.

If the ICC ruled in favour of women’s equality of resources, even just for legal preparation and investigations, it would begin the process of returning women’s economic resources to equal standards and enable us to begin undoing the lethal and cruel damage this entire system has crushed down upon women, and our children, everywhere…

And if these obscenely-rich and mainly white men refuse? That ought to be fascinating to watch… and record!


Whether any of this has any traction is for you to decide – I’ve simply see a realistic opportunity for all of us that’s worth sharing.



Lets Talk – Challenging Oppression through Positive Action



One minor but important amendment (see my Comment) – it is a matter of personal respect to ask first permission to involve the work of others; otherwise we can stand accused of ‘mis-appropriating’ the very hard work of our sisters.

We’re not allowed to do that in a ‘lawful’ society… imo, anyway.

So until Olga & Tanya agree… we’re only talking about it until we ask.

Originally posted on jaynelinney:

This series of Lets Talk has instigated a new campaign, I had no idea when I blogged about prejudice that a fellow warrior would pick up the mantle, taking it one step further with her analysis of challenging oppression through Law and Evidence.

But that’s the beauty of  communicating and working together, it sparks new ideas about challenge and this collaboration has opened up a proposal or a new way of working; social media has allowed a small group of women from Cornwall to the Scotland to join forces, sharing our experience and knowledge to make a stand.

Women2gether operate on the basis of  Inclusion, Collectivity, & Collaboration allowing  participants to dip in and out of the project, both to share and develop our understanding in a safe environment. This does not mean it isn’t challenging, the nature of the project requires confrontation, but only ideals are questioned, never the person; and…

View original 296 more words

The UK Human Rights Petition #UKHRpetition






This is post is for those folk who have encountered the petition calling for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, to provide us with the formal procedures that need completing in order to formally open an investigation into multiple breaches of Human Rights law in the UK. You can find the petition here:

Letter to the ICC at the Hague re potentially criminal breaches of Human Rights in the UK

This post is designed to explain the thought processes behind the request and provide background information for those who are interested in learning more.


Bl--KS2CIAAb5UzThis is not the only petition of its kind – I ‘borrowed’ the idea from another initiative and I would urge you to sign this petition too:

Letter to the ICC at the Hague re Mistreatment of the Disabled and Sick

Our own seeks to complement, not compete with, the efforts of other UK activists. In the case of the mistreatment of sick and disabled people, we share the belief that there is clear prima facie evidence that crimes against humanity ARE being committed by the UK government. If the petition on behalf of the sick/disabled is successful at the ICC, our petition – Jayne Linney’s & mine – aims to draw attention to the fact that this is NOT a single issue. The problem appears to extend right across our society with regard to the UK government’s treatment of the British people and seems to impact mostly upon those who fail to meet current ‘standards of social acceptance’. This ‘standard’, in practice, seems to ensure that only the interests of predominately financially-wealthy, white-skinned men carry power and influence in social decision-making, regardless of the consequences to those outside it. Certainly, the present front-bench of UK government and our mainstream media reflects this practice in real terms.


Please note my careful use of language here. There is a reason for this. If our claim that multiple breaches of Human Rights are systemically occurring in the UK is not to be dismissed as mere conjecture, the judgement has to come from a properly formed and recognised ‘body’ – the International Criminal Court meets this criteria. Additionally, it is for those with recognised social responsibility in the matter to present any evidence for judgement: Mrs Bensouda meets this requirement. Finally, any judgement, if it is to meet Human Rights standards itself, MUST come about as the result of a fair trial. This is the Law. In my long experience as an activist, it simply does not ‘do’ to challenge criminal breaches of the Law by breaking the law ourselves… unless and until all proper and recognised legal processes have been fully exhausted and have failed to correct the problem. With regard to potential government breaches of Human Rights law in the UK, we have yet to exhaust all lawful avenues to resolution and it therefore falls to activists to ensure that we remain lawful in our opposition to suspected criminal behaviour. We have to pass the test of ‘reasonableness’.


BjhaBDKIQAA0u_ZPolitical discourse in the UK, and led by government, appears to have manifested a furious intolerance of people ‘othered’ by current British social processes and this is being reflected within our mainstream media. It is not just the sick and disabled who are affected: women, people of colour, poor people, jobless, prisoners… the list is huge! I simply cannot to justice to all those affected in one blog-post. Nor is it humanly possible for two women to represent these issues for everyone affected by what is occurring.


It is this last point that informs our petition. Each and every group or individual affected by the current political climate in Britain knows their case far better than anyone else. We know the detail how we are impacted and affected. I believe that if we can persuade the ICC prosecutor to consider that fundamental and criminal breaches to British peoples’ Human Rights may be occurring and is worthy of a full investigation, our aim is to make it possible for each affected group to submit their evidence directly rather than having it funneled through processes that might exclude vital details from already misunderstood and silenced people.


Whether this is possible or practical, I don’t know, but I believe it is vital to make the attempt because thousands of people have already died and are still dying. I count myself as one who has been ‘marked’ for death, so I have a personal interest in this petition’s success. So do many other people – I know I am not alone.


Both Jayne and I will keep you updated on our progress. In the meantime, if you believe that our initiative could be truly effective, please sign BOTH petitions above and share them with those you know are already impacted by present UK government policies.


Thank you for any help and support you are willing to share.




Related posts

Let’s Talk – Challenging Oppression through Honesty

Let’s Talk: Challenging Oppression with Evidence (with tweets)

Let’s Talk – Challenging Oppression through Law


Today is my 2nd WordPress birthday




A problem the size of Jupiter. Artist’s impression of Jupiter at same distance as Moon. In fact, the planet would fill our skies completely.


WordPress sent me birthday congratulations, otherwise I wouldn’t have known.


I’ve decided to celebrate by creating my first ever petition:

Letter to the ICC at the Hague Re Potential Criminal breaches of Human Rights in the UK.

I’m hoping if enough British people who share my concerns sign this, the ICC may find it hard not to take notice.


It links directly to today’s earlier post.


Tomorrow is Star Wars Day #MayTheFourthBWithUs


I don’t suppose UK Jedi might lend their assistance tomorrow in getting the message out?