Sunday, September 5, 2010

Physical examination

"The physical examination was the worst part. A brutal, degrading experience, it was designed to strip prisoners of all human dignity. It worked. Graced was forced to strip naked in a room full of people. A prison doctor inserted a speculum into her vagina and took a Pap smear. Next Grace was made to bend over while a latex-gloved finger probed her anus, presumably for hidden drugs. Her pubic hairs were pulled painfully in search of lice. Throughout the procedure prison guards of both sexes laughed and made disgusting, lewd comments. Grace felt as if she'd been raped."

"After that, she was herded like an animal into a tepid shower and told to wash with antiseptic soap that burned her skin. Next, still naked, she stood in line to have her long hair cropped boy-short. The haircut took all of fifteen seconds but it was a harrowing procedure, robbing Grace of her femininity, her entire identity as a woman. Grace never saw her own clothes again. They were gone, along with every other vestige of the person she had been on the outside. They even took her wedding ring, wrenching it painfully off her finger. In place of her old clothes, Grace was given three pairs of underwear, a bra that didn't fit and a scratchy orange prison uniform two sizes too big for her."

(Tilly Bagshawe in 'Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness,' p. 101 Harper)

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