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Female prisoners deprived of legal rights: Report

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By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Paywond Afghanan Association (PAA) on Tuesday released a report revealing that female prisoners were deprived of their legal rights since arrest till end of the imprisonment term.

The survey covered Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Helmand provinces, where 53 people including inmates, released prisoners, legislative officials and lawyer were interviewed.

Head of PAA, Halima Sarwari, said that the survey findings demonstrated that women prisoner and their children have no access to their rights and are deprived of essential facilities inside prisons in the mentioned provinces.

She said that lack of female advocates, wardens and attorneys were other challenges faced by the prisoners.

Inadequate awareness programs for female prisoners, harming of female detainees since arrest till end of prison term, lack of shelter houses, system for rehabilitation under the framework of judiciary and compulsory literacy training program were other shortages in the prisons, she added.

She highlighted that lack of access of female prisoners to healthcare facilities, to psychiatrists, scarcity of kindergarten for their children were other issues in the prisons.

Corruption in judiciary and absence of skilled-based programs for prisoners was other problems that the report underlined.

Findings of the survey show that 68 percent of female prisoners were not aware of their legal rights during detention; even they had no knowledge that they have the right to ask for defense lawyer.

The report said that only 17 percent of prisoners were aware of the law on elimination of violence against women.

The survey reported that 31.67 percent of prisoners were charged with murder; 23.33 percent with fleeing from home; 20 percent with adultery; 11.67 percent with domestic violence; 6.67 percent with kidnapping and 6.67 percent with drugs trafficking.

Regarding sexual abuses in the prisons the report said that this rumor was felt deep in the Kabul female prison, but the prisoners had not talked about this issue. When the respondents were asked about the sexual abuse, they smiled or winked but did not reply straight.

According to the report 72 percent of prisoners and 94 percent of their children had no access to mental healthcare facilities in the prisons.

PAA asked the government to invest over implementation of policy regarding the female prisoners; run compulsory literacy and vocational trainings for prisoners; establish systems to decrease corruption in courts, police headquarters and attorney offices; increase number of defense lawyers; aware women about their legal rights; introduce mental healthcare programs in prisons and protect children in the prisons through provision of quality food and education programs.

Security Deputy for Prisons at Ministry of Interior, Mohammad Arif Ahmadi, said that prisons are overcrowded which deprived the inmates of some facilities.

He said that efforts are underway to address the challenges, but will take time.

Pointing to the challenges mentioned in the report he did not reject directly the findings, but said that the ministry is introducing reforms.

It is pertinent to mention that in March this year, a number of women in the Parwan jail went on hunger strike to protest what they call injustice.