A Tragedy of Lives - Herald

Date: Sat, 13 Dec 2003 16:11:47 +0200

Subject: Herald ToL story

From: Weaver Press This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To: Irene Staunton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Punish Prisoners Humanely, Says Judge

 

The Herald (Harare) December 11, 2003  Posted to the web December 11, 2003

 

Harare

 

THERE is need for prison reforms if prisons are to achieve their role as rehabilitation centres, High Court judge Justice Rita Makarau said yesterday.

She said some prisoners were being ill-treated as a way of punishing them.

"Once they move in prison, prisoners don't lose their status as human beings. So we shouldn't reduce them as non human beings but punish them humanely," said Justice Makarau.

She was speaking at the launch of a book, "A Tragedy of Lives" by the Zimbabwe Women Writers Association.

The book raises awareness of female prisoner's needs and shows what should be done to support them.

Justice Makarau said there was need for people to understand the offenders first before judging them.

She expressed concern that under the current prison system, children of women offenders were made to suffer the consequences of their mother's misdeeds.

"Are these children their mother's keepers?

"If the rational of letting babies of women offenders in is to keep them with their mothers, then they should not be treated as convicts by giving them the same diet as their mothers and being locked up at 4:30pm," said Justice Makarau.

She suggested other options of punishing women offenders such as giving them open care prison sentences.

Women offenders, said Justice Makarau, do not lose their womanly needs once they go into prison.

"Facilities meant for men aren't meant for us, so the issues of sanitary pads and pregnant convicts should be addressed to see how they can be helped since they should not be punished double because they are women," she said.

The Canadian International Development Agency gave the Zimbabwe Women Writers Association $131 million for their book project.

Canada's ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr John Schram said the project was unique in that it involved a lot of people, from former prisoners who were ready to share their life experiences, to the Zimbabwe Prison Services.

He said he hoped the book would result in increased support for programmes that rehabilitate prisoners, especially women.

Edited by Chiedza Musengezi and Irene Staunton, "A Tragedy of Lives" is a book based on interviews with former prisoners.

 

Murray McCartney

Director, Weaver Press

P O Box A1922

Avondale, Harare

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www.weaverpresszimbabwe.com