On March 11, a woman gave birth alone in a maximum-security jail cell at Bandyup Prison in Perth.
A damning report by the West Australian prison watchdog has revealed the woman was “audibly distressed” and pleaded for help for over an hour to the guards watching through a hatch in the locked cell door.
The Indigenous woman, identified only as Amy, first called out from her cell at 5:30pm saying she was going into labour. She was taken to the prison’s health centre and given paracetamol before being taken back to her cell.
At 6:30pm, Amy called out again in pain and distress.
She gave birth at 7:40pm on her own, alone, in a locked cell. Nursing staff had arrived roughly five minutes earlier, but could not gain access to the cell without keys.
Amy and her baby were taken to hospital that night.
According to the investigation findings, “Every person on night shift on 11 March was aware that Amy was in pain and distress for at least an hour before the birth… Staff had both an individual and a shared responsibility to take action, but failed to do so.”
The state Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan said he undertook the review “to understand how such a distressing, degrading and high risk set of events could have occurred in a 21st century Australian prison.”
It’s a question that needs to be answered. How could a woman be forced to give birth alone in a locked jail cell in Australia in 2018?
This article originally appeared on marie claire.