LONDON: Muslim women are facing the normalization of racial and religious persecution at the hands of UK prison staff, British website The Independent reported citing a damning report.
The Criminal Justice Alliance and the Independent Monitoring Board, which surveyed hundreds of female black, Asian, minority ethnic and overseas-born inmates, found that Muslims are being singled out for their faith.
One Muslim inmate of black African heritage told the report: “I feel as if black prisoners or those that are Muslim are seen as intimidating.”
She said officers often express this through a reluctance to provide prisoners within these categories “trustworthy roles,” adding that they only do so to “appear like they are not racist.”
Other treatment detailed included a Muslim being attacked while reading the Qur’an, and staff responding to frequent use of the N- and P-words by telling prisoners to “deal with it.”
Of the hundreds of women surveyed, a third described their treatment as “poor” or “very poor,” with 40 percent saying they have experienced discrimination, including reduced access to prison employment.
Nina Champion, director of the CJA, said: “This ground-breaking project centres on the lived experiences of black, Asian and minority ethnic women in prison — their accounts of direct and indirect racism and poor treatment are shocking and distressing.
“Even more upsetting is their sense of fatalism — they see this treatment as part of their everyday lives.”
Included in the report is a dozen recommendations for the prison service and Ministry of Justice, including provision of improved leadership on equality, ramped up anti-racist training, and external scrutiny of prisoner discrimination claims.
A ministry spokesperson told The Independent: “We are working hard across government to tackle the deep-rooted causes of racial disparity in the justice system.
“Racism and discrimination are not tolerated in our jails, and we take strong action to ensure the fair, equal and decent treatment of all prisoners and staff.”