Tunisia: Women Prisoners Account for 3 Percent of All Inmates in Tunisia

Tunis/Tunisia — Women represent 3% of jailed people in Tunisia, human rights activist Lina Ben Mhenni said at a meeting on "women prisoners" held Wednesday by the Centre for Research, Studies, Documentation and Information on Women (CREDIF).

"There is only one women's prison in Tunisia: the women's prison in Manouba, besides women's wards in other prisons," Ben Mehnni said, indicating that the women's prison in Manouba is not overcrowded, unlike other prisons in the country.

She added that her previous visits to Messadine's prisons in Sousse and Manouba women's prison had allowed her to closely examine the situation of jailed women and their needs.

The shortcomings reported in the Manouba prison concern the irregularity of sports and cultural activities, the limited capacity of the space reserved for the reception area, as well as the under exploitation of entertainment spaces and workshops, she pointed out.

The area dedicated to mothers and children in the Manouba prison is home to prisoners who raise their children; the prison staff is dressed in plain clothes, in accordance with the current procedures that require the protection of children under two, Ben Mhenni added.

"These children will be taken from their mothers by the age of two," she said, noting that the absence of psychological rehabilitation for these children could have negative repercussions in the future.

She called to avoid custodial sanctions when sentencing pregnant women and to develop specific programmes for the integration of women in social and professional life before their release.

For her part, CREDIF Executive Director Najla Allani said the meeting aims to shed light on the rights of women in detention, noting that it was organised as part of the Centre's participation in the campaign: "16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence" on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25 of each year.

CREDIF has picked the slogan "16 days and every day" as a sign of its daily involvement throughout the year in research, awareness and scientific work to combat violence against women, said Allani, noting that the Centre continues to organise activities until December 10: the date of the celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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