The government came under fire yesterday, as Members of Parliament exposed gross violation of women’s rights and various forms of violence against women and girls in the country’s prisons.
Special Seats MPs — Mhonga Said Ruhwanya (Chadema) and Magdalena Sakaaya (CUF) — became furious in the House yesterday over government’s failure to halt escalating humiliation and gross mistreatment to which women prisoners are subjected.
In separate supplementary questions the MPs expressed dismay over increased humiliation against women and girls, acts which they said were pioneered by women prison officers.
“It seems the government has failed to control this problem…women prisoners are mistreated, harassed and humiliated by women prison officers, but concerned authorities are quiet,” said Ruhwanya.
“We have evidence to back our assertions. I want to know measures the government is taking against women prison officers who are harassing their fellow women in prisons,” added the legislator.
The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki said the ministry had not received clear evidence on the said allegations, noting: “If the legislator has evidence on the kind of harassment women are subjected to in our prisons, she may submit them to me and I will work on it.”
The minister said if the ministry secured substantive evidence on humiliation and related violence in prisons, appropriate measures against the culprits would be taken.
But outspoken legislator, Magdalena Sakaaya added salt to the wound when she said: “Women are harassed in prisons…and these actions are being done by women prison officers. Women prisoners are undressed and subjected to all sorts of humiliation and violence.”
“I have sufficient evidence of such acts and I will be number One witness to prove it anywhere. I am ready to submit evidence, and stand as number One witness to provide proofs of humiliation against women going on in our prisons,” said Sakaaya.
The deputy home affairs minister noted: “I can see some MPs are laughing…if there is one of us here who was once been undressed in prison, it is not something to laugh at…it’s very serious. We should not joke.”
He said that the government would it take seriously, and institute proper measures against pioneers of the acts, insisting that “we must get substantive evidence before taking actions.”