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Protection of Women in places of detention

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1 Protection of Women in places of detention
Aisha Shujune Muhammad

2 Alcohol / drug dependency
Women and crime Crime Poverty Marginalization Abuse Alcohol / drug dependency The circumstances in which women commit crime is very different from men; crime for women is mainly, but not exclusively, a means of survival to support their family and children or a means to escape poverty and deprivation. Women mainly commit petty crimes; theft and fraud. women commit proportionally fewer offences, are less likely to be recidivists and commit very few serious violent crime. These differences are attributed to differential opportunity, socialisation and social control This is usually directly correlated to the socio economic realities they live in. Womens imprisonment is closely related to poverty – as reason for the offence AND because they cannot often afford legal services – criminalization of poverty. Many women are also imprisoned for drug offences, but they rarely are major players in the trade – often users or couriers Women are also more often imprisoned for moral offences than under codified law – good / bad dichotomy. Eg Afghanistan, Maldives / Women and crimes of honour – detained for own protection Eg. Pakistan / Protective custody – to ensure that they testify / Women victims detained eg rape / Women and coersion – prostitution Women, when criminalised feel stigmatisation more deeply than men because of the rarity of female offending, the sensationalism created by the media and the impact it has on their family lives. This heightened sense of shame has its impact on the pattern of female offending The most convincing argument relating to the rise of female offending has been put forward by Alder and Worrall (2004) which states that the increase is caused by a paradigm shift in the treatment of girls (and women). This hypothesis explains how the historical change from the traditional welfare oriented approach, mainly involved around ‘saving’ girls and women from ‘risk’ and ‘moral danger’, to a more justice based approach whereby women, and especially girls, who challenge and defy societal and moral values are demonised through the moral panic created in society has led to the rise in crime rates due to the differing responses. This change in response towards women and girls who are seen as ‘troublesome’, has led to a change is response whereby they are now dealt with through the criminal justice system, as opposed to the welfare system. While this situation was anticipated by before, the popular ‘sexualisation’ theory of welfare regulation overshadowed the caution, which led to an era where the ‘sexualisation’ thesis was pursued.

3 Women in conflict situations
Detained for ordinary crimes Detained for security reasons Kidnapping Bondage and forced labour

4 Why raise the issue? Women’s needs have not been understood by the criminal justice system - women are kept in institutions designed for men, by men Women’s prisons are spread out geographically Women are the primary caretakers in a family Women are more vulnerable to abuse Women are more vulnerable to self harm and suicide Women are ostracized when they return to their families / communities Reduced access to justice While the number of women in detention has increased because (1) the overall rate of incarceration has increased, and (2) the trends that have led to an overall increase in incarceration has had a particular impact on women Attitudes of the criminal justice system and society on female offenders is harsh has they are seen as ‘doubly deviant’; they are not only seen as having committed a crime, but as having transgressed their gender role. This view of double deviance makes responses paternalistic, protective and excessive towards women, leading to double jeopardy as women face the actual punishment and are treated more harshly for being deviant women Women, when criminalised feel stigmatisation more deeply than men because of the rarity of female offending, the sensationalism created by the media and the impact it has on their family lives. This heightened sense of shame has its impact on the pattern of female offending A large number of women who are incarcerated have, at some point in their lives, suffered abuse, whether physical, sexual or psychological Women’s specific health care and hygiene needs are not met – also true for children of female inmates. Allviated risks for women during menstruation, during and after pregnancy Poor antenatal and post natal service – inadequate resources – lack of understanding that reproductive health needs of women vary with age and situation Women are usually incarcerated in parts of prisons which house men - where there are prisons for exclusively women, due to the relatively fewer numbers of women, the prisons are spread out geographically – affects communication and relationship with family and friends Problems in taking care of children residing outside of the prison – children could go into state care (and the women are unable to reclaim custody unless she shows that she has accommodation and means to support the family), or become delinquent Problems with taking care of dependent children in the prison – not provided for in all prisons, but in come in consideration of the trauma of separation. But even the most well funded prisons, there are risks posed for the children Abuse, whether physical, mental or sexual – whether by law enforcement officials or inmates. Rape and transactional sex are a means of survival in prison – psychological effect / scars. Increased possibility of contracting HIV/AIDS, Hep, or other blood borne diseases Impact of routine strip searches – history of abuse, menstruation and pregnancy also affects women. Especially problematic if there are male staff, or insufficient female staff Women who have been violently victimised, are poor, have a caretaker role, uneducated are most vulnerable at initial admission. Women are supposed to be role models, expected to behave in a certain manner – incarceration for immoral behaviour even if not codified – could lead to losing parental rights – may not be in the best interest of children Reduced A2J is related to socioeconomic disadvantages – ranging from poverty, lack of education and resources. Women are often detained for ‘safety’

5 Some key issues affecting women
Classification and placement systems Legal support Family relationships and responsibilities Health issues

6 Classification and placement systems
History of DV and abuse Family responsibility Actual security risk Basics - Facilities are almost always over crowded, and this is especially true for women’s prisons; women should be separate from men; girls should be separate from women; accused persons and persons convicted should be kept separate But because of this, and because women are most frequently house in a separate section of a male prison, women are more likely to be held in worse conditions than men Classification and placement systems rarely take into account the actual risk posed by women – Classification systems should take into account histories of women – understand their vulnerabilities – history of DV and sexual abuse, family responsibilities Hence women are routinely over classified - restricts availability of programmes - there are usually insufficient programmes and services for their needs in the first place This reduces their chances of successfully reentring society

7 Legal support Presumption of Innocence Right to legal counsel
Lack of resources Inadequately funded legal aid systems Reduced possibility of bail / acquittal Face trial without knowledge of law or legal system

8 Family Relationships and Responsibilities
Held reasonably near home Small number of female prisons Stigmatization Near home – except where woman needs protection from a perpetrator – when safety cannot be guaranteed without transfer Monetary implications on visits for family – lack of financial resources, sea transport, public transport (poor/ expensive/non-existent) Could be problematic in large countries when families have to cover long distances Though there is stigma attached to imprisonment, and families often shun women in detention, visitation is important to ensure that she gets enough food, medicine, and other necessities Prison authorities should encourage relationship with family – leave from prison, extended family visits, phone, letters etc Prison authorities should be flexible about visiting frequency and time – could have travelled long distances / after school/work hours

9 Health issues Health condition at initial admission Hygiene
Continued health services during detention Reproductive health services Psychiatric and psychological support services Because women in detention are usually from impoverished backgrounds, the likelihood of them having a variety of health issues is very high – unable to pay for treatment / diagnosis, barriers to healthcare services Women have greater health care needs than men – hence proper health screening at admission important RH needs specific to age and situation – sanitary and washing facilities, safe disposal for blood stained articles Psychological and physical difficulties of menopause Provision of hygiene products – failure to do so amounts to degrading treatment Health workers and prison staff should be adequately trained and sensitive to be supportive of women concerning these matters Health – psychological wellbeing, sexual, physical abuse, physical abuse, self-harm, drug dependence, HIV/AIDS + facilities for children

10 Thank you for your attention!

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