By Robert Tapfumaneyi
The inhumane treatment of female prisoners, especially pregnant inmates, in local prisons has been bemoaned by a prominent Zimbabwean Pastor.
Pastor Tawanda Gezi, who represents the Prison Fellowship Zimbabwe (PFZ), said most female inmates are treated in a way that denies their human rights.
Female prisoners denied human rights
Speaking at a gender and development talk organised by the Zimbabwe Women and Resources Centre Network, Pastor Gezi said the situation in prisons is worrisome and urgent action is need to be taken in order to save lives of both the mother and the child.
“We work with Zimbabwe Prison Services in prisons and what we have observed is that female inmates do not have access to some basic things for their reproductive health, which is fundamental to women’s rights,” said Gezi.
“The situation is even worse when they are taken to local hospitals where they face stigmatisation; they are treated as prisoners without any rights.
“We engage government and the response is positive and we also get some support from others churches but the attitude has to change with the personnel [prison officials]. Female inmates must lose one right, that of freedom, not human rights. But if you go to our local hospitals, some of those guys are actually making our inmates lose all their rights.”
Stigma in hospitals: the experience of female prisoners
Speaking at the same function, Dr David Parerinyatw, a former Minister of Health and chairman of a parliamentary committee on health, said there is a need to screen nurses in order to recruit those with compassion. However, he said that a holistic approach is needed in order to address some of the issues that affect nurses, which in turn impacts on their attitudes.
“We must screen nurse recruits. We don’t want to recruit someone because he has failed to get a place at a university and end up training as a nurse; this draws back the profession of nursing,” Parerenyatwa said.