Inside the Freetown Female Correctional Centre
Whilst in correctional centres, women often lack necessities such as medicines, toiletries and nutritious food – but it is the separation from family that can often present the greatest challenge.
In September 2018, on a routine monitoring trip to the Freetown Female Correctional Centre (FFCC), an AdvocAid social worker met Jitta*, a 26-year old woman with three children. Jitta had been denied bail and was on remand at the FFCC with her 8-month old son. The social worker met her in great distress about the welfare of her other two children – a 3-year old and 6-year old – who had been left without proper care since her detention.
Jitta was accused of wounding her fiancée, Ibrahim. Ibrahim had seen Jitta coming out of another man’s house. They began quarrelling and then fighting. During the fight, Ibrahim allegedly hit her and squeezed her until she found it difficult to breathe – Jitta then took a knife, with the intent to threaten him but accidentally stabbed Ibrahim in the chest and wounded him.
AdvocAid’s social worker provided women’s sanitation packs and child welfare packs for Jitta*, to give her access to sanitary and toiletries items to care for herself and her 8-month old son. In response to Jitta’s distress about the care of her 3-year old and 6-year old, AdvocAid’s social worker traced the fiancée Ibrahim to discuss the children’s welfare, making the case to him that whilst Jitta was in detention the children would not be properly cared for.
At Jitta’s third appearance in court, Ibrahim declared to the court that he had forgiven Jitta. As a result of the discussion and support from AdvocAid’s social worker, Ibrahim pleaded with the judge, describing the suffering of the two children and asking for mercy on behalf of Jitta. Jitta was also represented in court by AdvocAid’s Legal Officer, who submitted a plea and the case was discharged.
Jitta was released from the FFCC with the support from AdvocAid’s social worker and legal officer. Social workers provide critical emotional support to women on detention and welfare packages to help women preserve their dignity. Social workers also have a critical role to play, through family tracing and seeking to mediate where there are disputes. The legal officer provides free legal representation to women who have no access to a lawyer whilst on trial.
Jitta told us that “I was almost crazy whilst in the prison thinking of my case and my kids back at home. I am grateful to AdvocAid and their staff who came to my rescue.”
We can only support the rights of women and girls in detention with your support. Thanks to you, our donors, we can help women live with dignity in detention and reconcile differences with family members. For Jitta, this resulted in the discharge of her case and returning home to her children.
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*Names have been changed to protect the individuals’ identities.