The government has been asked to establish special facilities for expectant and lactating inmates at all correctional facilities across the country.
Maendeleo Ya Wanawake National Treasurer Mary Odhiambo said the current setup at the facilities was insensitive to the needs of mothers and their children.
Expectant women and mothers with young children who find themselves on the wrong side of the law, she said are subjected to the same treatment and conditions in prison with other inmates posing a danger to the lives and development of the children.
“When you look at our facilities, these women are lumped together with the other women and they go through the same treatment yet they require specialized care,” she said.
Speaking in Kisumu during a public forum organized by the task force on improvement of terms and conditions of service of the National Police Service and the Kenya Prisons Service, Odhiambo asked the government through the department of correctional services to develop a legal framework to safeguard the rights of expectant inmates and children.
“We must be cognizant of the fact that the mother who is an offender is carrying an innocent life which must be protected at all costs,” she said.
The legal framework, she said, was critical to pave the way for the establishment of special facilities for the women to ensure that children born or raised in prison access all the requisite attention including exclusive breastfeeding, vaccination and quality medical care.
Her sentiments were echoed by Kenya Female Advisory Organization (KEFEADO) Executive Director Easter Achieng who called for a review of the law to allow such offenders to serve non-custodial sentences to enable them breastfeed their children for six months exclusively.
The task force, she added should come up with ways of dealing with sexual harassment of female police officer by their male counterparts.
The practice, she said, was rampant within the police force leaving so many female officers traumatized.
This, she added, has affected their performance with a good number of them stagnating in one level for years for failure of yielding in to the demands of their male seniors.
Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Nyanza Regional Coordinator Jackline Ingutia called for the improvement of working conditions for the officers to enhance efficiency in service delivery.
Ingutia said the officers were demoralized, affecting their psychosocial well being given the tough conditions they work under.
“A police officer is a government officer like any other and therefore must be accorded all the rights given to government employees,” he said.
Human rights activist Audi Ogada called for the increment of police officer’s salaries to tame rampant corruption and crime in the service.
New recruits, he said were taking home Sh. 18, 000 which he proposed to be scaled up to Sh. 40, 000 with the review taken across all the cadres within the force.
Police officers, he said, resort to crime and corruption due to the poor perks adding that the matter must be addressed urgently to ensure peace and security is maintained in the country.
“We continue to lose officers and innocent members of the public due to corruption and crime within the force. We must therefore relook at their perks to address this challenge,” he said.
Task force Chairman Rtd. Chief Justice David Maraga said all the views being collected across the country shall be taken into account when the group retreats to write the final report and recommendations.
Maraga said the team which has visited various police stations and prisons will push to improve the working conditions of the officers to enhance service delivery.
By Chris Mahandara