Arts featured Poverty Racism

The day that she goes missing nobody will respond. A poem by El Jones

TRIGGER WARNING: 80-90 percent of women in prison are victims of physical and sexual assault. Yet because they are “criminals” what happens to them at the hands of the system must be something they deserve. When we talk about injustice to rape victims in Canadian courts where are their stories?

First he took her body and he didn’t ask to touch
And now they take her body and they lock it into cuffs
They say they have her on the camera with goods worth 50 bucks
There’s laws to follow in this country it’s no excuse if life is rough
They say they caught her on parole with trace amounts of drugs
They say that looking at her record the case is open and shut
She never had the words to even say what he had done
But now she’s the one with sentences being given by a judge
And half the time nobody ever told her he was wrong
She’s always been betrayed by every man she trusts
He says jail’s easier for women so just say that it’s her bust
He says he loves her so she takes the charges for her man
Her lawyer told her deal and she didn’t understand
And they drag up all her past when they get her on the stand
They say she’s unreliable just check the tattoos on her hand
The crown says that they won’t charge her if she just tells on the gang
Now it’s going round the neighbourhood they heard she’s a rat
But police just turn their back cause she’s Indigenous or Black
These men take what they want and then they throw her out like trash
And they all say that she is worthless if she can’t be flipped for cash
The workers take her baby cause they say that she can’t bond
We know that wouldn’t happen if she was middle class and blond
But somehow they never showed when she was calling 911
And the day that she goes missing nobody will respond
The headline says she was an addict and she was well known to the cops
And the picture that they use on the news is her latest mugshot
She’s doing time on charges that never were her own
Her abusive boyfriend uses her apartment to hide the gun
She was the driver for the robbery we all know that he done
And now she writes him letters from her cell they go unanswered every one
It’s not like poor Black women smuggle drugs for fun
For men who send 10 women through the airport and then go on the run
Men threatened and assaulted her til she swallowed the condoms
Now she’s locked in federal prison while traffickers import tons
She just wants to feed her children, now cops tell her they’ll be gone
Men exploit these women’s bodies from the time she is born
Her mother turns the other way to keep him safe and warm
He’ll only do a year or two if he ever gets caught
While they’ve locked her down in seg when they accused her of assault
She’s having flashbacks when they strip search her like rubbing wounds with salt
And now her body’s being exploited one more time up in the courts
They tell her pay the victim surcharge but she can’t because she’s poor
So she makes her money on the streets on the corner where she’s forced
The cop took a so-called freebie but of course she can’t report
She’s never had a place to sleep that isn’t someone else’s floor
And then the undercover breaches her when she goes to make a score
They say that they’ll convict her of committing welfare fraud
And now they’re piling up the charges on her criminal record
When she said he never raped her they charged her with a false report
They make her do the time then they start proceedings to deport
She lived her whole life here in foster care but nobody ever thought
To get her citizenship so they never sent the forms
They’ve chained her to the bed in the hospital ward
They punish her for having children why can’t she just abort
She’ll only raise another generation for the taxpayer to support
And she’s not the ideal victim so I guess it’s all her fault
She’s the 90 percent of victims doing time behind our walls
But when they talk about justice for rape survivors they don’t mean her at all.


The day that she goes missing is reproduced courtesy of El Jones. El Jones is a Halifax spoken word poet, activist and teacher. Check out her collection Live from the Afrikan Resistance.

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