outside & inside prisons, jails, and detention centers everywhere that hold women captive.
Mother’s Day began not just as a day to honor mothers, but as a day for mothers to express solidarity with one another and against the wars that left widows and orphans impoverished. This Mother’s Day, May 12th, in honor of this tradition, we are calling for a global day of solidarity with incarcerated mothers and against a penal system that disproportionately cages people based on race, class, and gender non-conformity.
The US prison system incarcerates 113,000 women, 85,000 are mothers. This injustice system leaves 15,000 parents bereft of their adult daughters and thus responsible for raising their grandchildren. Many of the children of incarcerated mothers become wards of the state, beginning a cycle all too familiar to imprisoned women–most of the women in prison who were removed from their own families as children report being abused in the foster and institutionalized care imposed by the state and a staggering 75% of women prisoners are survivors of sexual violence.
Noise demonstrations outside of prisons are a growing tradition–a way of expressing solidarity with people imprisoned, sharing joy and celebration within struggle, and remembering those held captive by the state. Mother’s Day is, without exaggeration, the most emotional day in women’s prisons. Few imprisoned mothers will receive a visit from their children this year–let alone on this day. A noise demo breaks the isolation and alienation of the cell walls, but we cannot stop there. The captivity of women does not begin inside those walls, but rather with the threats of poverty and violence outside them. Liberation means an end to the abusive economic systems that devalue human needs and relationships, reducing our mothers to wage slaves and commodities for others’ profits.
The majority of imprisoned mothers held minimum wage jobs before incarceration. If they were employed full time, that’s less than $16,000 per year to find adequate food for their families, to secure housing apart from partners or family members who are abusive or put them at legal risk, and to pay for any physical and mental health support they and their children might need. In other words, these mothers and their children are being punished for their failure to live and provide for their families in impossible circumstances.
This Mother’s Day, come out to express solidarity with all women prisoners, with mothers, those who are survivors of violence, and against the rape culture that considers our daughters expendable.
No woman is expendable. Freedom for one must mean freedom for all.
Against prisons and the world that creates them,