Monday, 13 May 2013

Open letter to Vicky Pryce

Dear Vicky Pryce

I was asked to go on SKY news' Adam Boulton's lunchtime show to speak about how life might be for you, post release. I daren't assume and I avoid these media opportunities generally, but your case horrified and fascinated me. Thanks to modern technology and Skype we couldn't quite get it together but here are some things I wanted to say to you. that I wish someone had told me, so I knew how hard it was going to be.

First of all I know you are friends with my dismal aunty who claims to have brought down the lecherous venomous Stewart Hall. A shame she couldn't have done  something about the sexual abuse going on in her own family, right under her nose but I suppose she feels vindicated now. Beware of journalists, haggard old  brown ones bearing gifts and smelling of damp and opium, they are like poison.   Aunty Yazzmonster says you were driven mad by love. I think it was cold hearted revenge and old trauma, rearing their ugly Hydra heads.  Whatever it is , and who am I to judge, you have the chance to look at it and face it down. This is a chance not many women get, in a lifetime Vicky.

You'll never shake the tag of being an ex offender, a prisoner  a liar. You'll always be Huhne ex, like a boarding school moniker, Cameron minor, it's another way society strips women of our own identity, we are the chattels of the various men in the transitions of our lives.

As a woman, we are punished more  and more severely than men who commit identical crimes. When a man comes out, he can shake off  the  prison dust from his soles, bin the baggy clothes and get on with his life. Look at debonair Jonathan Aitken who had delusions of going back to parliament and is now the gentleman offender, elder statesman. Then there's Lord Ahmed who has handed in his  membership of the Labour party due to more allegations of  antisemitism  but they've wanted shot of him since his prison stint for texting and driving and killing.

You'll always have the stigma, prison never leaves you and for some people who have experienced trauma and come through a journey of self discovery, they find redemption in  campaigning for justice and showing up the glaring flaws in the system. We should be collectively ashamed of ourselves.  Six years after  the Corston Report, after endless campaigning by the Prison Reform Trust and the Howard League and others  there has been no significant change in the way women are treated in the criminal justice system. You'll be pleased to know Helen Grant MP is a justice minister tasked with  a review of the female estate and there is meant to be an announcement this summer. Don't hold your breath.

 I am working on an alternative custodial solution for women in the UK, which has an intensive therapeutic  intervention based on Judith Herman';s trauma recovery model and some of the brightest brains and most powerful people in the UK have  supported this and are on board. The University  of Nottingham is working on the metrics for working out the impact (social and financial) and this kind of work has never been done with female prisoners before, if you are interested in helping with crunching the justice reinvestment the economic side of this, prisonoimics, please get in touch with Chris Durkin who is leading on this.

You have the chance to  rebiography your life, through your writing  your creativity and your nerve. Grab it. Two short pieces of advice
1. Don't look back. You have done your time , you have paid the price  your future can be beautiful and you can make of it what you want.
2. Avoid becoming anyone's pet prisoner or project, the prison reform campaigners have an agenda which I believe is sinister;  if women's prisons are closed, they run out of self perpetuating jobs in overpaid executive positions, like the cartoon character that runs and runs and runs to the end of the cliff until there's no more cliff and he looks down and ... there's nothing but air. And he falls.

The time for action is now, it's not a time for more reports or more rhetoric  As a woman whose life was  seriously screwed up through sexual abuse, violence and self hatred, I  found my way back  because of the love of an  entire community, I wish you only love and peace in your heart.

If I can ever do anything at all, please get in touch.
In womanity

Farah x

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