[Wildcat Online: opinions] [ad info]





Taking it to the streets


Arizona Daily Wildcat

By Anna Roe
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
December 2, 1999
Talk about this story

Over the course of this year, the university has seen its share of protests. We have had the Students Against Sweatshops protesting against Nike; there have been demonstrations for a retrial for Abu Jamel Mumia, and most recently the Tucson World Trade Organization protest that included 24 UA students downtown.

While all of these are worthwhile causes, a lot of issues in Tucson that deserve attention are lost among the students who jump on the popular cause bandwagon.

Looking through yesterday's edition of a local newspaper the front page was filled with images of people being tear-gassed in Seattle and one heroic man trying to block the gas from others. It wasn't, however, until I reached the very back page of the front section that I became extremely disturbed by one particular letter written to the editor of the paper. It contained no pictures, and it was considerably shorter than anything on the front page - but much more alarming. The letter dealt with the issue of women starving in prison.

The woman who wrote the letter was an inmate at the state prison in Tucson and was pleading for help from anyone. At one point in her letter, she wrote, "They ran out of food again this morning for the women at the state prison in Tucson. They run out of food every other day." She also wrote about how sick the women are, how women's hair is falling out and that some of the diabetic women are near comas again for lack of proper nutrition. She also states how she has never seen the women as sick as they are now.

She goes on to tell us that a majority of the women are denied health care and that no one will help them. She tells us that the women have developed bruises and hair loss from malnutrition, and she writes that inmates in the men's prison enjoy twice as much food as the women get. The most disturbing line of the letter was this: "The last time you printed one of my letters, we got decent portions for two weeks. That's all." This letter was the woman's second letter to the newspaper, so the issue is not a new one.

While the downtown protest on Tuesday was for a good cause, how much effect does it have in the long run. All of us, especially groups that focus on injustice need to look around at our own community. One group that participated in the protest were students from the Department of Women Studies, and it seems this woman's problem would be of interest to them. I wonder if those same WTO protesters that were blocking downtown traffic would have had actual results from their actions if they were protesting for better conditions in the women's prison.

It's sad when humans are mistreated, but it is even sadder when the mistreatment goes ignored in a community who decided to support a more popular, well known cause.

This issue in the women's prison is a serious one. This woman's plea for help sounded like one of a prisoner of war.

Although protesting rights for women in prison is not as glamorous as protesting against the World Trade Organization, it is still a disgusting injustice that needs attention.

This woman's letter was buried deep within the newspaper, while the Seattle protest grabbed the front page of most newspapers in Tucson.

This woman's letter should be a wake-up call to those of you who feel that you are active in causes that fight injustice. Injustice goes on everywhere, and a profound difference could be made in our own community if we would take the time to read the local newspaper instead of only national ones.

Because I just happened to stumble across this woman's letter, you are now aware of her situation. In terms of media coverage, this issue has been ignored as far as I can see, but that doesn't mean that the cause is any less important. This woman's cry for help shouldn't be ignored because prisoners are seen as less desirable people or because they don't have celebrities backing their cause or because Tucson activists tend to support nationally known injustices. These women are starving not only because of injustice, but because of our ignorance.

[end content]
[ad info]