Pregnant women, mothers, babies locked up in prisons across Nigeria

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    A recent study by the National Human Rights Commission has confirmed that 90 per cent of women awaiting trial in prisons across the nation are either nursing mothers or pregnant.

    Many of them are also pregnant while they have their babies locked up together with them.

    “It is also sad to note that more than 90 per cent of these nursing mothers are still awaiting trial. These are women that should have been released on bail while awaiting their trial,” NHRC Executive Secretary Prof. Bem Angwe said.

    He told the National Council of Women Societies President Gloria Shoda who visited the commission September 26 in Abuja in regard to the recent MoU the commission signed with the women association.

    “One therefore wonders how in a situation where such mothers are eventually discharged as innocent citizens, how much compensation can be given to a child who is made to pass through the conditions that we presently have in our prisons,’’ said Angwe.

    According to him, these are women that should have been released on bail while awaiting their trial.

    He told Shoda that the commission would the collaboration of the NCWS to provide an immediate intervention in this regard.

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    The executive secretary also said that in spite of several campaigns both internationally and nationally to end discrimination against women, it still existed in form of cultural practices.

    “Many of these acts are hidden under what we call culture and this has contributed largely to the huge number of cases we receive that represent the violation of the rights of all women.”

    Angwe advised the executive of the NCWS not to allow politicians to use the association boasting over 80 million members to score cheap political points.

    “The NHRC will not stand back and watch the leadership of the NCWS follow politicians during campaigns because you are supposed to be neutral.’’

    Shoda, responding, said the visit was specifically to evolve the best ways to execute the June MoU the two bodies signed, particularly with regards to issues of gender-based violence and the Child Rights Act.

    The NCWS president gave the assurance that the association would work with the commission to promote the rights of women, youths and children, particularly sensitisation campaigns.

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