Support Imprisoned Children & Women in Afghanistan

by Street Child
Support Imprisoned Children & Women in Afghanistan

Project Report | Sep 17, 2020
Project Update - September 2020

By Sarah Moorhouse | Project Contributor

Dear Supporters,

Thank you for your continued support of women and children in conflict with the law in Afghanistan. We are delighted to share an update with you.

Women and children in Afghanistan continue to be arrested for crimes which would not be recognised under international standards. This means children are punished for petty crimes that would not lead to an arrest elsewhere. Nationwide, the number of children detained in juvenile detention centres has risen sharply over the past ten years, despite Afghanistan’s 2010 Juvenile Code stating explicitly that the detention of children should be used ‘only as a last resort’. Children and women arrested by the police face harassment, neglectful treatment in police stations and long and difficult periods of imprisonment. 

The overall objective of our work is to support vulnerable children and women in conflict with the law in 3 key areas:

  • Diversion - to avoid involvement with the justice system altogether.
  • Rehabilitation - to create improved conditions within detention centres to support the emotional and physical wellbeing of women and children and to prepare them for a safe and more productive return to society.
  • Reintegration - to overcome the stigma they face following arrest and imprisonment, and to overcome the circumstances which led to their initial arrest.

We are addressing these issues through the following activities:

  1. A day release open centre for children in Balkh Province. The centre offers children an education, vocational training and social work services.
  2. Counselling and psychological-social support for children and women in conflict with the law who are either waiting for their trial or post-trial.
  3. The placement of social work mentors in police stations in the Balkh and the Northern Region to advise and train existing social workers.
  4. Educating and informing police and prison workers on the legal and human rights and needs of children and women.
  5. Advocacy – working with other NGOs and the Afghan Government to lobby for alternatives to detention for women and children.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began the restrictions have prevented us from undertaking many of our planned activities. These delays make an already desperate situation even worse. Lockdowns have impacted access to the juvenile rehabilitation centres; educational activities have had to be halted; vital training for social workers and police has been postponed and vocational trainers have not had access to the women’s prison.

However, during these challenging times we have still been able to achieve positive outcomes and continue to support the women and children we work with: 

  • Social workers have been able to undertake family visits to support juvenile rehabilitation inmates who were released as a result of a presidential decree due to COVID-19
  • Defence lawyers have continued to provide critical legal advice to vulnerable people and represent the inmates during the lockdown. 
  • 3 advocacy meetings have been held with officials from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA), looking at what they can do to provide support and alternatives to incarceration for women and children. 
  • We have prepared, packaged and distributed information packages including essential information adapted for a low-literacy, low-resource environment and translated into local languages and dialects;
  • We have prepared, packaged and distributed essential supplies including soap and sanitiser, masks and health and hygiene materials – this is particularly important in correctional facilities where overcrowding and congestion limits social separation or isolation; improved health and hygiene practices are essential to reduce risk of infection and critical illness; and
  • We have provided psychosocial support and increased awareness of protection risks and recognition, response and reporting strategies.

Moving forward as fragile, crisis and conflict-affected countries face challenging choices on how to flatten the curve in their contexts, correctional facilities have emerged as an extreme risk in Afghanistan.   Incarcerated females are suffering from separation and isolation as families are prevented or prohibited from meeting them. They remain extremely vulnerable and the threat of COVID-19 as unsafe and unsanitary facilities mean there is a risk of rapid transmission should there be an outbreak. As such it is essential we are able to resume our work which is critical to support women and children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to continue to build on our achievements to date. 

Thank you again for your support of this crucial work and Street Child! 

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Organization Information

Street Child

Location: London - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @streetchilduk
Project Leader:
Ariella Fish
London , United Kingdom

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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