Women in prison in Zimbabwe


This powerful book is based on interviews with (former) prisoners that were conducted by Zimbabwe Women Writers. The stories that are told are revelatory. Women who find themselves in prison are too often driven by circumstances into a situation where the emotional or material poverty of their lives makes breaking the law appear the only option.

Society, through its prisons, not only treats these women as criminals deserving punishment; but once there they become the recipients of punitive or demeaning action and, not infrequently, they are also regarded as pariahs by their families and friends. Their children, by virtue of the absence of their mothers, also suffer deprivation and neglect, thus limiting their opportunities for a fulfilling or contented life.

The vivid particularity of these personal stories, often told with unexpected candour, is balanced by essays written by experts in law, gender, and prison reform. A Tragedy of Lives is a book which will demand that we ask how much responsibility should be borne by the culprits, and how much by society; and, what can be done both to prevent the ‘crime’ and create a more compassionate environment.

The contributions in this book raise some very important issues regarding women, criminal law and punishment régimes and should become essential reading for law reformers, legal experts, social workers and prison officials as well as anyone interested in the lives of others. – Women’s Law Centre, Zimbabwe.

A Tragedy of Lives
Edited by Chiedza Musengezi and Irene Staunton
Weaver Press
Harare

ISBN 0 77922 017 0

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