Give inmates family time and conjugal rights: MP
Kambuzuma Member of Parliament, Willias Madzimure, has called for prison inmates to be permitted family time and to exercise their conjugal rights, as seen in other countries.
According to Madzimure, a politician with the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) party, Zimbabwe has to amend its rules and allow family time for prisoners.
His comments come at a time when the government is seized with the Prisons and Corrections Services Bill, which attempts to reform legislation governing prisoners.
“It is important that we have a special day at the end of every month where the prisoners can interact with their families because we have already punished the inmate by incarcerating him. I think it is important that we also work along those lines and do something to make sure that we have got full rehabilitation of prisoners,” Madzimure said.
“A prisoner who spends ten years in prison after leaving a one-year-old child, the child will be nine years old by the time he is released. For him to go home and say, ‘I am your father, I am back’ and expect the child to really embrace the father and understand that this is the father, will be a torrid time for both the prisoner and the child.”
The legislator also suggested that when a married person or one in a relationship, is arrested, they should provide their spouse’s or partner’s name so that they can visit them to provide conjugal rights.
Madzimure said this is a practice done in other countries and would be a good idea for Zimbabwe to adopt it.
“I would want to raise the issue of conjugal rights for prisoners. In Sweden, the moment you are arrested, you are interviewed and you submit the name of your wife, if you are married and if you are a married woman, you submit the name of your husband. If you are a person who is not yet married, you submit your girlfriend’s name,” Madzimure narrated.
“So every Thursday, you are allowed to be visited by your wife or husband in private. The reason is very simple. The issue of sexuality is not a secret and for us to expect someone to go to prison and spend ten years alone in prison without enjoying his or her rights, I think it is wrong.”
Madzimure said private accommodation can be arranged for such activities.
“This can be corrected so easily by making sure that we have prisoners with private accommodation that can be used for that purpose because let us not assume that there is nothing happening in prisons. A lot of things happen in prison – so let it be clear that this is the facility that we have in prisons,” said the legislator.
He added hat when a prisoner has served a certain amount of their sentence, they could also be allowed some weekends when their families can visit them within the confines of the prison.
“There is also one thing that I admire in Sweden. After you have served a quarter of your sentence, you are even allowed to go out in the company of an officer and visit your family. In Zimbabwe, we may not be able to do that but we can have a situation where at the end of every month, you have a day, maybe a Saturday or a Sunday where we allow prisoners within the confines of the prison to meet their families, especially the children. We have a typical example of people who were incarcerated for seven years for having not committed any crime, but they were denied the opportunity to meet their families.”