Suffragists - History - Early 20th Century - Force Feeding English Suffragette Prisoners

Force Feeding English Suffragette Prisoners

In September 1909, the Home Office became unwilling to release the hunger-striking suffragettes before their sentence was served. Suffragettes became a liability because if they were to die in the prison’s custody the prison would be responsible for their death, and as a result, English prisons began the practice of force feeding the suffragettes through a tube, most commonly a nostril or stomach tube or a stomach pump. The use of force feeding had previously been practised in England. However, its use had been exclusively for patients in hospitals who were too unwell to eat or swallow food properly, and despite the fact that this practice had been deemed safe by medical practitioners for sick patients, it posed issues for the healthy suffragettes.

The process of tube feeding was strenuous; without the consent of the hunger strikers, they were typically strapped down and forced to eat via stomach or nostril tube, often with a considerable amount of force. Many women found the process painful, and after the practice was observed and studied by several physicians, it was deemed to have both short-term damage to the circulatory system, digestive system and nervous system and long term damage to the physical and mental health of the suffragettes. Suffragettes who were force fed were also known to develop pleurisy or pneumonia as a result of a misplaced tube.

Read more about this topic:  Suffragists, History, Early 20th Century

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