Today it became public knowledge that at least one guard at Grand Valley Women's Prison in Kitchener has been sexually assaulting women there by soliciting sex with them in exchange for drugs. For details of this incident, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/11/19/grand-valley-prison-sex-drugs.html.
This prison is currently embroiled in serious criticism over their mistreatment of Ashley Smith, which lead to her death. And yet CSC has decided to deal with the very serious issues of abusing power and assaulting women through the same internal processes that cleared those responsible for Ashley's death. This further demonstrates their culture of secrecy and unaccountability.
But it gets worse. A source from Corrections Services Canada's staff has confirmed that the guard in question was returned to active duty today, once news of these sexual assaults appeared in the media. We assume this was done because CSC wanted to avoid anything that might look like an admission of guilt. What it looks like instead is closing ranks to protect an abuser. We can be certain that for the women he assaulted, the abuser's returned presence is a frightening consequence for speaking out.
Women's prison in Canada depends on routine sexual degradation as a way of maintaining control. The use of male guards in women's prison contributes to an atmosphere of harassment and objectification. Currently, CSC is changing its policy to allow prisoners to be strip-searched more frequently during routine movement within the prison, which will allow more opportunities for predation and harassment.
CSC is attempting to portray these assaults as made up or at least potentially false. We utterly reject their attempts at blaming the survivors of sexual violence, and we believe the stories of the women who were brave in speaking out about their experience.
CSC has been revealed to be a corrupt and unaccountable bureaucracy. Within it, the callous culture of sexual exploitation by male guards will not go away. These assaults against women in prison will only end with the abolition of prison.