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RELEASE THE BREAKS WITH TECHNOLOGY – WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

1.1 The condition of women in and out of prison- what technology can do!!!
Women in prison continue to suffer double tragedy. Most of the problems they experience or they have been convicted of, mostly originate from retrogressive culture and denial to justice as well as poverty. Regrettable from the ex-convicts like one in this picture Chungu (not her real name) narrated the situation of women from the time they are arrested before being taken to court and eventually to prison. The women while in police cells get raped by either the male culprits or even the Police. It is regrettable that in some police stations they do not have a separate room for women. Women are locked in the same room with men. The situation is aggravated in instances in which men are many in a particular police station and so the women are removed from the cell to sit outside mostly in the corridors with nothing to cover themselves, which exposes them not only to disease but also to other dangers like being raped by male police at night, of which is just adding insult to injury and they can do nothing about it and they may become infected with HIV and eventually die of AIDS.

It is sad that some women after serving their term in prison do not have a proper place to settle or call home due to various reasons. Most of them suffer stigma and discrimination that they would rather squat somewhere so that their background is not known. Others have no place to go to at all or even a place to lay their head; and therefore join prostitution, risky jobs that could make them land back to prisons easily, just for them to continue having a place to live. It is for this background that I wish to make the following suggestions.

a) Conduct situation analysis in each county and highlight recommendations. FIDIPA, a national NGO in collaboration with partners to conduct research/baseline survey on the plight of women convicts and determine the root cause of their arrest.

b) Institutional development/capacity building for gender mainstreaming – understanding the commitment; clarity about the goal of equality among the stakeholders and commitment to pursuing this goal at both institutional and individual level. Have analytic and planning skills so as to respond to issues of equality to the relevant agency mandate, structure and mechanism to enable inter-sectoral linkages and still hold staff accountable, catalytic presence of government to give clear mandate to which line ministry to implement the project ensuring participatory mechanism- consultations and decision making, influencing policy and program formulation and evaluation without conflict of interest.

c) At policy level: - determine legal structure and framework on gender at national and international levels, affirmative action. Lobby and advocacy through participatory processes of all stakeholders and policy makers – gender analysis in organizations and projects. Gender mainstreaming- technical domain, political domain and cultural domain.

d) Programming/planning level: - there is inadequate arrangement for sustainability of projects benefits; if at all there any including resource allocations; geared to benefit women, including the inbuilt specific indicators for monitoring. Gender analysis using gender equality and empowerment framework, participatory planning/budgeting as well as setting targets and motivations for mobilization e.g. (have separate rooms for women in all police stations in Kenya and beyond, have all CCTV cameral in all police stations, have computers in all police stations for recording and statistics, have female police officers handling women in all police stations really digitalise the police stations, at formulation stage identify qualitative and quantitative indicators)

e) Implementation stage: design and conduct need based training for all project implementers and beneficiaries e.g. train officers in gender mainstreaming and law enforcement agents- high lights key issues affecting women in custody and way forward, sensitize communities. Use trained paralegals mostly female to use study circles, development drama and role plays – lobby and advocacy through workshops, seminars and meetings, develop dissemination of issue based information through local radios, television, print media, community leaders/members sensitization using local languages;

f) Monitoring and Evaluation(M&E) level:- participatory/community M&E training for both genders thus gender mainstreaming in program management e.g accountability, budgets internal controls, including gender responsive indicators in projects among others.

1.2 Women out of prison and internet
On June 23rd 2014, I visited one prison and met a lady of 18years old who had been convicted for loitering and went in for eight months. She was living with her granny who is a widow. She dropped out of school due to fees and poor performance in school. She therefore opted to go and work as house help. Some friends directed her to a place and she got a job. In this house the woman suspected her to be having an affair with the husband and sent her away. She went out but did not know where to go and the police caught up with her and arrested her for loitering since she could not even explain her case very well. As we left I sympathise with a young girl whose self esteem has been eroded completely and wondering where to start again.

Her granny does not even know she was arrested, she does not even have transport to go back to the village, she does not even know the town well. My heart is with people like this girl called Chungu. She has good skills on dressmaking, hair dressing among others, which she learnt while in prison. I wish to get start up awards to assist people like Chungu who leave prison with skills and lack the ability to initiate a project. She requested if she can be bought a tailoring machine so that she can get a place to start her new life. Others would need salon equipment, beads material, baskets etc. Having internet/website to place some of the items they have sold is highly welcomed by many. Having phones with internet where they can share the ideas with others in different locations is highly appreciated.

1.3 The power of networking after prison.
In subsequent consultative meetings with different stakeholders, some of the ex-convicts would like to form a club/group/network as women paralegals. Considering what they have gone through, they wish to be trained as paralegals to form link between the community and the legal system that will ensure justice for women is done in all police stations, prisons and community. Their role will expand from giving basic legal services to empowerment of the women at grassroots to take initiative for sustainable development. Human Rights perspective, it is believed that poverty is caused by widespread ignorance on legal and human rights and is seen as the absence of certain basic freedom or the non-fulfilment of rights to those freedoms. The argument is that due to this ignorance people do not have (sufficient) access to power, material resources and basic services. This leads to exclusion, exploitation, hunger, lack of opportunities and inequality; thus poverty, which in some cases contributes their being arrested.

1.4 Women economic empowerment and Technology
In partnership with telephone/service providers and both radio and television stations, it would be essential for all women to have cell phones. At the moment it is difficult to find a home/village without a cell phone in the neighbourhood. If the campaign would be that each woman to have access to at least a cell phone and know how to operate it will boost access to internet and even be able to sell some of their products through the internet even as a group e.g OLX. Communication would also be easy and it would reduce transport cost, venue and time. For those who may be illiterate that would form another platform to conduct adult education targeting women at grassroots.

I believe going digital is the way; it is all in one roof. In the early 1980s many people did not have phones. Sending money to family and friends even locally was a big challenge, now we have M-PESA/Airtel money among others and very easy to operate. A thousand mile starts with one step but to the right direction. Tenders and applications done online are more reliable and preferred than files being exchanged or getting lost. Internet and technology plays a big role as far as fighting corruption at all levels is concern. Records are kept and cannot be easily manipulated. I believe we are in the right direction to go digital as far as women empowerment is concern and we shall get there with determination. It is important to tackle the challenges affecting digitization priority areas in terms of participation and sustainability of the project. For instance the need to have basic needs first in order to facilitate the move to have other important equipment.

Thank you

Nyapaul

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

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Comments

Greengirl's picture

Insightful post!

Thank you so much Nyapaul for sharing such insightful post about the plight of female prisoners. The conditions they are subjected to, which you aptly captured in your article is really very pathetic; and must be brought to the front burner. It is so unfair that the authorities are ill equipped to manage the lives of women who are caught in such web. The suggestions/recommendations you put forward makes a lot of sense, and I can sincerely hope and pray that it will catch the attention of decision makers in your country and beyond.

Thank you for sharing!

Regards,
Greengirl

Nyapaul's picture

women in prison empowement

Thank you Greengirl. You have a beautiful name. I pray and trust to get support to bring difference to the disadvantage women prisoners.

Thank you

Nyapaul

Nyapaul

Greengirl's picture

I say Amen to your desire!

Believe in the change you envision and stay focused sis; I know too well that it's only a matter of time before the resources you need begin to pour in.

All the best,
Greengirl

Nyapaul's picture

Thank you

I say a big Halelluya to that,praise the Lord.

Nyapaul

binapatel33's picture

Thank you

Great story and very touching. How do you think that technology can help a woman like Chungu who is stuck in a jail cell? I am proud of your efforts to communicate with the women and to share their stories. Without your efforts, we would know be aware that women are suffering so badly. Thank you for sharing your story.

Kind Regards,
Bina Patel
hc Mediate, LLC
www.hcmediate.com

Nyapaul's picture

Technology and women prisoners

Dear Bina,

Many thanks for your response. I would suggest the following:
1. That if possible all the police stations be fixed with CCTV camera managed by independent body to be able to capture all the activities at the cell. This will make the Officers in charge be responsible.

2. In every police station built/have a separate room for women before they are taken to court. The room should also be fixed with CCTV camera to monitor the movement.

3. In all police stations have computer at the reception to record all the cases statistics as they come in. This will reduce manipulation and even corruption of police officers taking the belonging of culprits e.g phone money etc

4. The police division should have a website and if possible the daily data should be posted on site for instance in Police station Gongomongo ten women arrested on Monday on Tuesday they are taken to court three jailed, two taken back to cell etc. The authority would be able to know the trend. This would also improve efficiency in the police force. Sometimes someone takes too long before taken to court for no apparent reason maybe disagreement with the Officer in charge. The law requires that one is are in in court within 24hours.

5. The authority would tackle the challenges for delay I believe if transport is one of them because sometimes there are police stations without any vehicle at all. Therefore taking the culprits to court on time is delayed. I believe if things are computerized in collaboration with a media house to highlight the situation there will be change.

6. FIDIPA will put in place strategies for sustainability measures for continuous monitoring of the activities.

Thank you

Nyapaul

Nyapaul

binapatel33's picture

Thank you

Thank you Nyapaul. It will hold the police responsible for their actions, and hopefully create some deterrence from abusing women. Is the corruption very high there?

Kind Regards,
Bina Patel
hc Mediate, LLC
www.hcmediate.com

Nyapaul's picture

Thank you

Hello Bina,

Thank you my sister. Yes cases of corruption are reported and many research done indicate that police force remains the most corrupt in the country. Nobody has ever highlighted or exposed the issued I raised. Its my prayer that we get resources to roll the program and arrest the situation. People fear rubbing shoulders with the police so whatever bad evil they commit just go unpunished.

Thank you

Nyapaul

binapatel33's picture

I can only imagine and I am

I can only imagine and I am sorry that you have to deal with it. I actually am from Kenya and know how the police work as well. I didn't want to assume so I did not say anything, but I am not surprised. I can only imagine the consequences if you saying anything bad against the police. Keep up your good work Nyapaul! May God Bless you.

Bina

Kind Regards,
Bina Patel
hc Mediate, LLC
www.hcmediate.com

Mauwa Brigitte's picture

REALLY BRAVO FOR COURAGE

Hi!
This work deserves good resource for this work forward and continue the struggle for sustainable change and especially the dialogue with the authorities instead of denouncing evil. And involve the nation of basic computer and internet is the tool for social change. Inmates do not have the voice for his release but your effort is multiple capital to solving problems for women. God be with you in your path!

Brigitte

Nyapaul's picture

Hi Brigitte, Many thanks for

Hi Brigitte,

Many thanks for your comments. Yes it is true it deserves good resource, but I am encouraged that thousand miles start with one step, but towards the right direction. I also believe information is power and enables people to make informed choices. My first concern is the treatment of women when they are in police station(s) not prison. In prison the treatment is different because they have been charged and jailed. In prison the prison wardens now take care of them and they do not even mix with men.

The real problem is at police station before taken to court. I am trusting for collaboration and support to roll out the program and expose this evil. I believe that even exposing the situation of women at police stations will start contributing to change. It is a worthy cause although touching the government but I am persuaded that nothing good comes easy. We shall get there my sister we have to be our sisters keeper. Whether they are guilty or not they deserve fair treatment. Sometimes it is not their desire to be in police stations and therefore they should not be raped.

Thank you

Nyapaul

Nyapaul

Mauwa Brigitte's picture

Thank you for the courage

Hello Napaul,
Thank you very much in prison both men and women is really nice now separates to say that consciousness is the man and the Government is doing its job so that there is equal treatment for the empowerment of women. That justice is done for Cameroon.

Brigitte

SaritaMat's picture

You are a role model..

What a great efforts to think and bring the condition of the women prisoners in the limelight.Such a touching story of a prisoner.I hardly knew if somewhere in the world if women prisoners are going through all this pathetic situation.You making us aware is indeed a great efforts of yours.You are a role model for me who feel for them and wish to change their lives.I am glad I got to know you.

Regards,
SaritaMat

Nyapaul's picture

Commanding your destiny

Dear SaritaMat,

Thank you very much for taking time to read and comment. I really do appreciate your very encouraging words, they keep me going. As a believer in the gospel I refuse to be entangled with destruction.We as women leaders must forge ahead begin speaking change with what we have. That is why I use my talent to minister peace, love and hope to women in and out of prison. Gob bless you so much as we pray for resources to support the this worthy course.

Cheers
Nyapaul

Nyapaul

I am so proud that there are people like you who selflessly wish to do something for so called weaker section of the society.You are their strength,inspiration and a ray of hope.I wish you all the success in the path ahead.

Regards
SaritaMat

Nyapaul's picture

Thank you

Thank you. last week on 4th July a lady was release from a prison and she did not have a place to go and was therefore directed to my house. She now wish to join my singing team. She loves singing. Pray for my music ministry so that it may grow and be a blessing to many. Pray with me for more concerts, conferences, crusades so that as we spread the Gospel we are also changing lives of the needy particularly from the proceeds of the CDs. You can see my songs on youtube nyapaul songs.

Thank you

Nyapaul

Julia O'Byrne's picture

Terrific post!

Hi Nyapaul!
I really enjoyed reading your post - I learned so much from it. It was awful and disappointing to read about the way women are treated when arrested. It's awful that sometimes they are held in the same cells as men and the prevalence of rape is really scary.

I liked the second half of your post when you started making connections to the internet. I agree with you that giving women access to the internet (through their cell phones if necessary) is a great idea and could make it easier for them to speak out. I love your idea about having former prisoners become paralegals and be the crucial links between their communities, prisons, police stations and really the justice system in general. That would be wonderful! Those women would be able to make a huge difference and I hope they are able to start working in those roles.

Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to reading more from you.

Best wishes,
Julia

Nyapaul's picture

Terrific post but positive

Hello Julia,

Many thanks for your comments. Remember me in prayers for this project to move to the next level and change the lives of this vulnerable women and others in our society.

Thank you.

Nyapaul

Carolina Torres's picture

Creating aweness

Hi Nyapaul,
Thank you for your post. It is very powerful.
This is indeed a social problem that needs to be addressed from the community level. I was wonder, how much awareness has been created? Only by creating community awareness will be possible to have an impact at the policy level.
Thank you very much and hope to hear more from you.
Carolina

Nyapaul's picture

Creating awareness

Thanks Carolina,

I agree with you indeed awareness at community level is very important just as I did mentioned and suggested strategies on how to go about it. People must be aware of what is happening that is why I suggested even partnering with a local media house to assist in awareness creation agenda among others.

Thank you

Nyapaul

Marah Mbine Ngole Epie's picture

Thank You!

Dear Nyapaul,
"Release the Breaks..." - this is very captivating! Infact, I read your piece very closely and can see you thinking aloud what justice for Female Prison Inmates. You know, it was at the International Conference on Human Rights that held in Vienna in 1993 that some Activists established this famous phrase: 'Women's Rights are Human Rights'.
The female prisoners indeed are denied justice. They need someone out there to advocate for them, and YOU are doing just that.We are dreaming for a better world... how our governments treat their people matters and how the people treat each other matters more. Keep your new technology rolling! You're beautiful!!!

Marah
Community Listener/Vocal Contributor.

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