No Pride in Prisons held a protest outside the Department of Corrections Northern Region office this morning in response to the recent sexual assault allegations made by a trans inmate at Whanganui Men’s Prison. Around 35 people were picketing when Gaynz.com Daily News attended, just before 11am, with more people walking towards the site to join in. The protesters were in front of both entrances to the building and on the roadside holding banners and placards. “We just want to ensure our voices are heard and show our support,” A member of the protest group told a gaynz.com reporter. “I have mixed feelings about today,” says Emmy Rākete of No Pride in Prisons. “It’s heartening to see so many come out to an area of Auckland that isn’t super accessible, during a time that isn’t easy for many people, to show their solidarity. “This isn’t an issue that no one cares about, people are coming to be heard." Rākete mentioned that between 70 and 80 people were at the protest earlier in the morning. According to the group, Corrections still hasn’t taken steps to ensure the safety of the inmate. “The men who she said raped her still work at Whanganui Men’s Prison. Her requests to transfer to another facility have also been ignored,” says spokesperson Ti Lamusse. “Corrections has deliberately kept information from No Pride in Prisons, despite the woman naming us as her advocates. Corrections is clearly more concerned about the way this will look in the media than for the safety of incarcerated people.” The Prison Director of Whanganui Men’s Prison responded to the sexual assault allegations against his staff at the facility saying that an internal investigation has “found no substance to the allegations”. Police say they are still unable to comment on the investigation and say inmate safety is a matter for Corrections. Rākete says she spoke to a representative from the office this morning and informed her about the inmate’s allegations. The representative had no information on the issue but said she would “look into it”. “I would pleasantly surprised if something came of this conversation,” says Rākete, “We’re not confident in Corrections’ abilities to effectively deal with this and they continue not to take this seriously. “They’ve built such a bureaucracy around themselves that they can’t even check if they have rapists on staff and remove them,” she says. “Corrections is prioritising due process over prisoners lives.” A protest also took place this morning outside the Department of Corrections office in Wellington. For about an hour, 45 protesters held a solidarity picket.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Friday, 22nd April 2016 - 12:30pm
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