18 August 2018
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Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:24

Prison warders urged to actively disseminate SRHR

Written by  Thoko Chikomo & Innocent Kapiye

Chikwawa, May 15, 2018: Prison warders in the country have been urged to take an active role on issues affecting the prisons.

 The remarks were made in Chikwawa District on Saturday at the end of a training workshop for prison warders where Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) is implementing the ‘Get Up, Speak Out (GUSO)’ Project among other six organizations.

GUSO is an SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights) project aimed at promoting easy access to sexual and reproductive health rights services by the youth, among whom are vulnerable groups such as young prisoners.

Speaking in the district, Senior Advocacy and Resource Mobilisation Officer for the program, Michael Kaiyatsa said the training aimed at improving the quality of health among the prisoners and that the activity was part of prison reformation process.

Kaiyatsa said a lot of prisoners are not reached with proper messages concerning sexual and reproductive health and human rights, a situation that he said perpetrates increase of sexually transmitted diseases among them.

‘‘Prisoners are at high risk of contracting diseases like HIV and Syphilis, but they are side-lined with information concerning their health. We forget that once prisoners are released, they get back to the communities where they will likely spread the diseases if infected,’’ said Kaiyatsa.

Kaiyatsa said good health among prisoners was crucial for the achievement of prison reformatory objectives but said the country’s prisons are facing severe challenges which also impede on efforts to improve health within the institutions.

‘‘Prisoners have rights too, and these rights are very much guaranteed in our constitution which states that the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable, that means every person in prison has the right to good health.

“We want young prisoners to make right decisions concerning their lives because from time to time, we learn that in prisons, the youth have their rights violated, for example, through oral or anal sex, a situation which endangers their lives,” he explained.

He further said through such practices, they contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) because they do such things ignorantly without protective measures and due to lack of awareness and knowledge concerning the effects of such behaviours to one’s life,’’ added Kaiyatsa.

He further said it was his expectation that after the training, the warders would strive for a better change by also imparting knowledge on the prisoners on dangers of some practices likely to affect their lives.

‘‘The prison warders we have trained throughout the workshop should be active to provide messages to the prisoners concerning dangers of sexual activities and also teach fellow warders the same issues,’’ Kaiyatsa said.

He further advised warders to separate youth and elderly prisoners as one way of reducing such cases, saying as NGOs they fail to provide condoms or lubricants because the laws do not allow the provision of such in prisons.

On his part, Crispine Msika, Inspector at Chikwawa Prison, said the workshop helped them and were ready to extend the same knowledge to others.

‘‘Our prisons are overcrowded to the point that it becomes difficult to notice such malpractices happening. At the moment, we do not have data that such things are happening.

“But all in all, we will provide information we have learnt through the training to all our inmates so that they should get knowledge concerning the dangers of such sexual practices. This will also help them to be responsible citizens in their respective areas once released from prison,’’ said Inspector Msika.

Apart from reaching young prisoners with sexual and reproductive health messages, the project also intends to do the same to youths outside prison.

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