Human rights challenges facing women prisoners: A comparative study of Atopi and Kasangati Government Prisons
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The study focused on human rights challenges facing women prisoners in Uganda with a comparative analysis of Atopi and Kasangati Government Prisons Apac and Wakiso District respectively. The study sought to identify specific women’s rights violated in Atopi and Kasangati prisons, to analyze the causes of violations of rights and to examine the roles played by different stake holders in promoting rights of women in prison. This research employed a comparative study research design. Respondents were selected from women prisoners, the management and staff of prisons, officials from Human rights Commission, officials from judiciary, human rights defenders and civil society activists, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights committee members of parliament. The sample size was 160 respondents selected using purposive and random techniques. Data collection tools used was interview guide, a note book and a pen. Data was analyzed using SPSS. The findings were that there was more violation of human rights of female prisoners in Atopi prison which is a rural area than Kasangati prison which is in a peri urban area. The right to health was the most abused and it was more abused in Atopi prison as compared to Kasangati prison where it was minimally abused. The major cause of human rights abuse of women prisoners was that of insufficient funding as indicated by 65% in Atopi Prison compared to 55% in Kasangati Prison. The major role of stakeholders played in promoting rights of women in both Atopi and Kansangati Prison was defending the constitution and this was basically done by members of parliament, judiciary and the police. The study recommended that the government and prison management should continue to lobby and follow up with relevant stakeholders for additional resources to improve and strengthen health-care services to women prisoners. Recommends that, a gender sensitive policy to ensure that women prisoners have access to prevention of diseases like HIV/AIDS, care and treatment and the policy should be continuously reviewed to ensure that it matches with the situation at hand. In addition to the above, recommended that there is need to reduce the high number of women in detention by giving court the authority to consider mitigating and gender specific factors when sentencing women. Finally the study recommended further areas for research such as ways and means of reducing overcrowding in prisons; violation of children’s rights in prison; torture in prisons in Uganda and corruption and human rights abuses in the Uganda Prison Service System.