A Period in Custody: Menstruation and the Imprisoned Body

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Smith, Kate
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Dr. Mike Sutton

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2009
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94455 bytes

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Abstract

This article, based upon pilot work conducted in a closed women's prison in England, explores women prisoners' own experiences and accounts of menstruation and the complex role of situation in determining reactions to menstrual symptoms and to menstrual change. Socialised to see menstruation in negative terms, women prisoners tend to perceive the experience of menstruation in prison as a particularly uncomfortable intrusion into their lives. It is an imposition which cannot, however, be accommodated in private. Negative expectations and experiences of menstruation in prison may influence many women prisoners to focus on its associated unpleasant symptoms. Here, imprisonment may well set up the circumstances in which women come to regard themselves as suffering, which will, in turn, determine whether or not they help-seek. The findings suggest a high level of menstrual distress in women prisoners and a high rate of use of prison health services for menstrual complaints. However, there is also evidence to suggest incongruous referral behaviour, a major cause of which seems to be unease or dissatisfaction with prison health care and, in particular, male doctors.

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Internet Journal of Criminology

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2009

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© 2009 New University Press. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.

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Criminology not elsewhere classified

Criminology

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