The welfare of children living with incarcerated mothers in selected prisons of Zambia
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This study was an investigation of the welfare of children living in prison with their incarcerated mothers in selected prisons of Zambia. The study was conducted because the Zambia Prisons Act of 1966 allows a female inmate with a child below the age of four (4) years to live in prison if there are no family members willing to take care of the child. There seems to be very little known about the conditions under which these children live in prison, hence, the need to conduct this study. The study was conducted in the Kabwe Female Prison and Lusaka Central Prison respectively. The study investigated whether children’s right to food, education and accommodation are respected in the named prisons above. Furthermore, the study also inquired on the challenges faced by the prison and social welfare authorities in the implementation of policy and laws concerning children living in prison with their incarcerated mothers. This was a qualitative study, using a case study design. The data collection methods used were semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and observations from a sample of twenty five (25) respondents. The sample comprised of 12 incarcerated mothers living with their children in prison, 10 prison wardens, 2 officers in charge and 1 Director of Social welfare Department. The two prisons were sampled using convenience sampling while homogenous purposive sampling was used to sample all the respondents. Data was analysed using thematic approach. The study established that the children living in prison with their mothers are not given food in prison because the dietary scale of the Zambia Prisons Act of 1966 does not include children. Thus, prison authorities only give food to the mother and not the child. Children therefore, depend on the food portions given to their mother which are undoubtedly too small for both the mother and child to be satisfied. The kinds of food which children are able to access through their mothers include beans, kapenta, samp, nshima and rice. Children also depend on food donated by well-wishers. Concerning access to early childhood education the study established that children living in the Lusaka Central Prison have access to early childhood education while those living in The Kabwe Female Prison do not. Furthermore, the study also established that no special separate accommodation was given to incarcerated mothers living with children in both prisons due to shortage of accommodation. Finally, the study established that the prison and social welfare authorities had challenges in implementing laws and policies concerning children due to contradictions that exist in the laws and also lack of funding from the government. The study concluded that there is gross violation of children’s right to food, education and accommodation. Therefore, the Zambia Correctional Service, Social welfare department and non-governmental organisations need to arise to the occasion and improve the welfare of circumstantial children. The study recommends that the Zambia Prisons Act of 1966 must be revised to cater for children’s needs of food, early childhood education and accommodation. The study also recommends that the prison and social welfare authorities should work together to create alternatives for children not to enter the prison but place them in orphanages or foster care because the prison is not a good place to raise children. The study suggests that further research could be conducted on the welfare of children living with incarcerated mothers in all prisons of Zambia. This is because this study was only confined to two prisons in Zambia. Another study could be conducted to investigate the impact of incarcerating a mother on a child who remains outside prison.
University of Zambia
Master of Education in Civic Education
- Education