arvan's picture

TEDxBG 2011 - Yana Buhrer Tavanier - The Forgotten People of Bulgaria

Social activist Yana Buhrer Tavanier shares the shocking stories of the children and adults in Bulgaria's orphanages and social institutions.

Christina Engela's picture

Mistaken Gender Identity

Did you see the article about the woman misidentified as transsexual and thrown into jail for 7 months with men?

I think it should be pointed out that it's not so nice to be treated like us, is it? And therefore it's not nice the way WE are being treated - DESPITE provisions in existing laws that supposedly protect people from this sort of treatment.

Apparently some typically over-qualified genius in the employ of the State mistyped her name as "Denis" - when she was actually Denise. (Yes, that's right, with an "e" - as in "education") That one slip of a key could easily have cost this woman her life. In point of fact, I would say that her life has been effectively ruined. Yes, she was detained on suspicion of having committed a crime - but now, despite having been cleared in court of all charges - she is a multiple rape victim, has suffered various forms of abuse and trauma, is suicidal, may have contracted HIV and numerous other diseases. A simple "We're so f***ing sorry" from the court and the Prison Service - or the State - is just not going to be good enough.

The simple truth about jails in this country is that they are death factories. Whether you go there for a week or life, the line between both can become a little blurry and actually mean the same thing.

Jails in South Africa have become breeding grounds for gangs that exist inside and outside the confines of prison life. They are training academies where a simple bag-snatcher can graduate as a full-fledged murderer. They are overcrowded, brutal and savage. And of course, our prison service is hardly any better than the criminals they guard, trading favors and money with their captives. Oh, now I'm being a little harsh, some might say - but how often has their corruption been exposed by investigative journalists?

And yes, prison is supposed to be feared, it's supposed to be a natural consequence to breaking the law. It's supposed to be a deterrent. But is it altogether fair? Is it just?
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