Farah Damji is a woman in conflict with the law. She is an artist and a writer whose articles have been published in The New Statesman, The Times of India, The Observer and had her own column in the Birmingham Post for some years. She wrote a book in 2009 called Try Me describing her unconventional and traumatic lifestyle. She edited and ran a lifestyle magazine called Indobrit (latterly Another Generation).
Since 2010 Farah has dedicated her life to social justice issues. She actively campaigns for the rights of women in the criminal justice system which has often led to her being at loggerheads with the institutions that damage and fracture women’s lives. She has previous convictions for perverting the course of justice and theft of services by fraud 2005. These convictions are spent. Her formal CV is here.
“The author who possesses not only ideas of his own but eloquence with which to clothe and adorn them cannot avoid cutting an impudent figure in this world.” Spranger might have been describing Farah Damji when he wrote those words. For she is such an author, creative, eloquent, and most definitely impudent. And it’s the impudence that makes her memoir Try Me so delightful to read….And oh! What a life she led. The kind of life only a very few women have lived. Women like Cleopatra of Egypt, the Queen of Sheba, Theodora, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe. Women who had style, imagination, elan and a lust for life”
I care about the rights of women and justice. These are the passions that drive me, injustice makes me inflammatory – senior probation directors posting images of their freshly picked home grown asparagus make me apoplectic. While Rome is burning, let’s not compare asparagus? I believe Naomi Wolf is right / write when she states that house of the master will only be dismantled by the tools of the master (that is a misquote). Education, solidarity, campaigning, stepping up for our rights and demanding that justice is served will drag England’s archaic justice and penal systems into the 21st Century. The Times they are a-changing sister.
Over 80% of women in prison have been the victims of violence and abuse, over two thirds are diagnosed with more than one mental health condition. Over £600m a year is spent on justice health contracts yet we have the highest numbers of suicides in custody and on license by women, who cannot access these services. This is an outright failing of the State to safeguard the most vulnerable and damaged women in society. We are all responsible, our money funds these private parasite companies, to warehouse unnecessarily large numbers of women, to keep the criminal justice machine, Incarceration Corporation by another name, monetised.
These contracts let to NHS Foundation Trusts and private health care companies such as Care UK, Virgin Health and Sodexo Health Care which runs HMP Bronzefield and HMP Peterborough appear to be completely unmonitored and unregulated. HMPPS own forensic psychology department is dangerous, uses out of date risk matrices and measures to assess danger, and is again, completely unregulated by the CQC or any other inspectorate or monitor. We are asking for a complete overhaul of the Mental Health Act, you can review our manifesto by downloading it below.
I am seeking out ways to change the rampant injustice against women who need support not incarceration in the criminal justice system, from the point of arrest, through sentencing and incarceration right through the rehabilitation and resettlement stages. I believe the criminal justice system in England is utterly broken and it will take the voices of strong, fearless women and our advocates to shift the misogyny and to create meaningful change,
I possess an eye for justice,and a sharp sense of smell for bullshit. I am meticulous, some call it pedantic, but I believe words are spells and can be used to really damage or to heal society, individuals and communities. I thrive under pressure but I need time out to savor all that life offers up and I work well alone, in a mindful state. I have strong interpersonal skills and work with a wide variety of people, from the most disenfranchised to the most elevated (in their own heads) .