Behind the Bars: Situation of Imprisoned Mothers in Karachi Jail

Journal of Gender and Social Issues, December 31, 2012 | Go to article overview

Behind the Bars: Situation of Imprisoned Mothers in Karachi Jail


Abstract

Women either in police custody or in jail both are in quite horrible and dreadful situation. It is hard to measure their physical and especially mental state as they do not easily discuss their problems with anyone. Women prisoners who live with their children or have children outside the jail confront more miserable psychological issues than others. More than 60% of women prisoners are mothers of little children. For this research, the universe is the Youth Offenders Industrial School and Special Prison for Women, Karachi. Through simple random sampling 200 women prisoners were selected. According to the research requirement questionnaire was developed by reviewing the objectives the finding shows that children living with their mothers in Jail particularly need special attention and the Jail Manual should be modified.

Key Words: Children, Mother situation, Imprisoned mother and Karachi jail

Introduction

The issue of female criminality was not highlighted by criminologists, researchers and social scientists before, but in 1990's this problem attracted the attention of researchers and psychiatrists because of its intensity and significance for society. The reason for ignoring this problem was a common misconception that very few women were involved in crimes and also that usually women committed ordinary type of crimes, for example shoplifting, prostitution, and burglary. These crimes are not of that nature which requires attention or research study. Recently, efforts have been made to explore the reason and conduct research on the socio-economic factors which force women to commit crimes of various nature (Wikstrom, 2006). Because women constitute fewer than 7% of the world's prisoners, their needs, particularly regarding menstruation, pregnancy, and motherhood are often ignored by prison administrators.

Jails are always considered as correctional facilities for the criminals. A prison was defined as a place properly arranged and equipped for the reception of prisoners who by legal process are committed to it for safe custody while awaiting trial or punishment. However, now prisons are increasingly being called correctional institutions and are defined as places properly arranged and equipped to keep in safe custody those committed there by the courts and where they will be treated with humanity, and would be helped to lead a useful life as law abiding citizens after their release. Though the types of jails are changed according to time, they always existed for the reformation of criminals.

According to United Nations report "the separation of women from their children due to imprisonment has a traumatic and long term effect on the mothers and their children. Children are likely to suffer from acute emotional and developmental problems, as well as being at risk of inadequate care at home or even in Child care institutions". Women have to face many problems in jails like sexual assault, overcrowding, violence and rapes; these problems were rarely discussed before (Hiremath, 2005).

Faith (1993) presented the most comprehensive list of these "Pains of Imprisonment".

Women prisoners who live with their children or have children outside the jail confront more miserable psychological issues than others. More than 60% of women prisoners are mothers of little children; 3% of women's children are living in jail with them. Women prisoners living with their children in jail seldom receive positive responses from jail staff and Police officers; most of the time they have been the victims of the most humiliating and violating abuses in jail. It is a common obscuration but a cruel mental violence that the children in jails are used to the hearing of ugly comments about their prisoner mothers' character whether they are guilty or not. Pregnant women prisoners also confront brutal behavior and are exploited in jail. They have to face physical and mental violence from jail staff; without any attention to their medical facilities. …

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