Maternity system examined in IWPR radio show.
Women who give birth in prison in Kyrgyzstan get only limited access to their baby during the crucial first few months.
There are currently around 300 female convicts, all housed in a single prison. When a pregnant inmate is about to give birth, she is taken to a nearby maternity hospital. Prison guards maintain a watch outside the ward, and a three or four days after delivery she is taken back to jail.
Five days later, mother and child are united in the prison’s nursery, but that only lasts a month or two. After that, she returns to the normal prison regime and can only visit her baby twice a day. This rules out breast-feeding and also ignores the woman’s need for continuing rest and healthcare, including help with any post-natal stress.
The child remains in the prison nursery until the age of three, and after that is placed in a children’s home if the prisoner has no relatives prepared to look after it.
Aynuru Altybaeva is a member of parliament who has visited prisons around Kyrgyzstan, and argues that the law should be changed to allow non-custodial sentences for women charged with lesser offences.
Aytunuk Nurdinova is an IWPR contributor in Kyrgyzstan.
This audio programme went out in Russian and Kyrgyz on national radio stations in Kyrgyzstan. It was produced under two IWPR projects, Investigative Journalism to Promote Democratic Reform, funded by the European Union; and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU or the Norwegian government.