Pregnant Inmates in Philippine Prisons: Securing and Saving Them with Gender-Sensitive Policy Reforms

Manila Bulletin, November 3, 2015 | Go to article overview

Pregnant Inmates in Philippine Prisons: Securing and Saving Them with Gender-Sensitive Policy Reforms


Dr. Gabriela SlovAaAaAeA kovAaAaAeA of the Czech Republic, our moderator for session this morning entitled Working Differently with Women Offenders; my fellow speakers for this session; officials and personnel of the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA); officials and staff of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO); respected guests; fellow prison reforms advocates; ladies and gentlemen, good morning....

I am honored to have been given the chance to share with you my study on the plight of pregnant inmates in Philippine jails and prisons, and the need for gender-sensitive innovations and policy reforms to address their specific needs considering their susceptibility to harm and dangers during this particular moment in their lives.

Some pregnant women are apprehended by reason of criminal charges. Women, whether pregnant or not, should be afforded with human rights in prisons and must be treated well considering their nature and vulnerabilities. More so, a pregnant woman requires special attention and care due to the unborn baby inside her womb to avoid any miscarriage or untimely maternal delivery. It is important to note that the unborn fetus growing inside the womb of the inmate does not have anything to do with any crime charged on the mother. The fetus is innocent of any wrongdoing and should be accorded all the rights of an innocent person. However, due to certain circumstances, the unborn human being carried by the female inmate is forced to suffer the same unfortunate fate of incarceration.

The more vulnerable members of the detained and incarcerated persons with their unborn or delivered babies have been allotted a significant space and attention in my Dissertation, Examining Deaths Behind Bars: Toward Penal System Policy Reforms in the Context of Human Rights.

May I share that I just finished my Doctor of Social Development degree from the College of Social Work and Community Development of the University of the Philippines on June 28, 2015. And with it, comes my deepening commitment to the ends of corrections which are rehabilitation and reintegration, as reflected in my choice of topic for my dissertation.

One of the surveyed inmates for the study was a female detainee who was seven months pregnant when she was apprehended on March 27, 2014. She was subsequently detained, but less than a year after her arrest, she was released from jail. It transpired on September 7, 2015. The judge dropped the murder charges against her. Evidently, she was already free, but she was not happy. Aside from the fact that she maintained her innocence from the crime that was imputed to her since her arrest, she also lost someone dear to her while in captivity. It was no other than her dearest... her most precious - newly born baby.

THE PLIGHT OF PREGNANT INMATES AMIDST THE PREVAILING PRISON CONDITIONS

"Adalia" is the alias that I gave to this grieving woman. She belonged to the 566 inmates who participated in the survey for my dissertation. The inmates were in five jails we visited: Two jails under the supervision of the Bureau of Corrections, and three jails under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. They were dominantly males, 59 percent; followed by females, 37 percent. Three percent of the inmates were gays while one percent lesbians.

Among the surveyed inmates in the correctional facilities, 98.31% of them stated that pregnant women are not being provided with good and orderly sleeping quarters. Furthermore, 42.86 % answered that there is no special care for the pregnant inmates.

As reflected in our survey, the pregnant inmates were not treated differently from the rest of the inmates. Hence, they too suffer most of the prevailing prison conditions in the Philippines, which include the following:

(1) Problems regarding food rations and water supply.

(2) Deficient health care services.

(3) Medical negligence. …

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