Journal- Agenda: Empowering women for gender equity

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AGENDA:Empowering Women for Gender Equity WOMEN & IMPRISONMENT IN AFRICA - Reflections on the Past and Future [[1]]

This issue of Agenda focuses on a neglected population of women around which there is not only the silence of social disapproval, but also neglect by governments and the criminal justice and penal systems. In addressing the social exclusion of this group of women and the lack of social attention and research about incarcerated women in Africa, we give weight to the production of feminist research and the excavation of women's prison experience as well as prison narratives, as important for bringing to light the day-to-day experience of women prisoners, and the legitimISation of prison as an under explored area of women's experience and of their human rights. Prisons as socially constructed sites of sanctioned social punishment, isolation and deprivation, situate inmates as the custodial responsibility of the state as a penalty for the crimes they have committed or are alleged to have committed. However, prisons in Africa have also become sites where malnutrition, disease, violence, torture and degradation have been reported all too often with little or no focus on the gender-specific consequences of prisoner rights abuses for women.


A cell called home: Reflections on the politics of containment and emancipation in Westville Female Correctional Centre (by Miranda Young-Jahangeer) [2]

In the shadow of being forgotten: Women incarcerated in Nigerian prisons and the health implications (by Abidemi Fasanmi) [3]

Taking ‘A Count’ of Women in Prison (by L. Artz & B. Rotmann) [4]

A Perfect Woman in Prison (by F. Mphini) [5]

The right to privacy for women in detention:Contestations of power in South Africa's penal systems (by K.E. Stone) [6]

Narratives and testimonies of women detainees in the anti-apartheid struggle (K. Hiralal) [[7]]

Three drawings from prison (by Rachel Botha) [[8]]

Health promoting prisons – An impossibility for women prisoners in Africa? (R. Dixey, S. Nyambe, S. Foster, J. Woodall & M. Baybutt) [[9]]

Lesbian relationships in correctional settings – “Let our voices be heard” (by N. Gopal) [[10]]

“I wish I could remove most of my childhood memories in me” (by Thembalethu Nhlebela) [[11]] Thembalethu is an ex-offender who has been convicted eight times on charges of theft. Her first conviction was in 1981. She has served prison sentences in Nongoma, Empangeni, Westville, Bizana, Pomeroy, Kandaspunt (now Ncome) and Eshowe. She left Eshowe prison in 2005 and joined the Phoenix Zululand restorative justice programme as a facilitator, assisting serving inmates prepare for re-integration into family, community and society. Her narrative account is from a life writing project.

“Prison is not a good place … ”: Learning from dilemmas surrounding an inmate's experience (By D. Pillay & S. Ngubane) [[12]] Exploring the complex lives of incarcerated African women is a powerful site for deepening our knowledge and responsibility as a transforming country. Empirical research by South African researchers on circumstances that lead African women to imprisonment, and the conditions they experience in prison, is sadly lacking. We take a narrative inquiry stance to explore what can be learned about life in a South African prison from an ex-inmate, Bakke. Drawing on the conceptual frame of dilemmatic spaces and Foucault's theory of ethics, we analyse two vignettes: Bakke's pathway to prison, and her decision to turn her life around during incarceration. The analysis opens our eyes to a deeper understanding of the dynamic, complex everyday lives of young African women growing up in rural settings, and who turn to crime.