Today I woke up reflecting on the state of prisons in Nigeria, the inhumane hardship that prisoners, especially female offenders face on a daily basis. Women prisoners are treated as the "other of the other." Many are raped by prison officials, denied access to education, and denied access to basic amenities such as menstrual pads, soaps and even toilet roll. I am particularly moved by the oppression endured by children born in prisons. Female offenders do not get pre-natal care and they give birth to children in pain. These children are left to face the worst fate any human can imagine.
The sad reality is that nobody really writes about the forms of exploitation and oppression female prisoners' endure. Societal attitudes toward prisoners does not help the situation - many people see female prisoners as the worst form of criminals. This, unfortunately, is not usually the case. Many women are imprisoned without first being tried in the court of law. More so, prison officials build a cult of secrecy making it difficult for research to be conducted in penal institutions.
I am not writing to support crime - I say this because some female offenders are confirmed offenders. I am writing on behalf of that woman in jail who has not been given the opportunity to defend herself in court. I am writing in defense of that young toddler whose little eyes have seen evil caused by oppression and sexual discrimination. I am writing for that family member who knows that his daughter, sister and mother has been humiliated as a result of institutional violence. I am writing for change. Let our prisons be a site for reformation and rehabilitation! Empower female prisoners! Give women equal economic opportunities with men! Do not dim the light in the eyes of the future generation!