- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
At a meeting of west Wales branches of the world’s biggest women’s voluntary organisation, Assembly Member Joyce Watson delivered a talk on women’s prison reform.
The Soroptimist International clubs of Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Fishguard, Cardigan and Tenby invited Mrs Watson to address their forum, held at the Bro Cerwyn Centre in Haverfordwest on Friday (3 October) evening.
Mid and West Wales AM and women’s rights campaigner, Joyce Watson said:
“I was delighted to address the meeting of local Soroptimist International clubs. They do fantastic work – raising money for and supporting local and international projects, fighting for the rights of women everywhere.
“We discussed women’s experience of the penal system. The vast majority of women prisoners have been convicted of non-violent offences and are serving short sentences. Wales doesn’t have a women’s prison – it cannot be right that, where a woman receives a custodial sentence, she cannot serve that sentence in Wales, close to her family and friends.
“Sadly, although women make up just 5% of the prison population, they account for half of all self-harm incidents. Clearly something is not working. We need a woman-centred approach. Women’s centres provide a lifeline, a safe place for information, support and training. We must invest in services that help women stay out of the penal system in the first place and safe within it.”
Last year there were 247 women in prison in England with home addresses in Wales. Nine of out 10 women prisoners have been convicted of non-violent offences, around a third for drugs offences.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the formation of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland. With more than 80,000 members in over 100 countries, Soroptimist International is the biggest women’s voluntary organisation in the world. It has ‘category 1’ status at the United Nations which means it is consulted to ensure that women’s voices are heard in the international decision-making process.
For more information about Joyce Watson’s work, contact her office on 02920 898972 / www.joycewatson.co.uk