n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - A comparative analysis of imprisoned mothers' perceptions regarding separation from their children : case studies from Scotland and South Africa : research article




Women are a minority within the prison community worldwide. Research has shown that this may lead to their experiencing problems that are specific to women, such as structural discrimination, different security arrangements and fewer opportunities for work and obtaining of qualifications. Furthermore, most prison systems experience high rates of female offenders with problems of substance abuse, and psychosomatic and mental difficulties. Overall these factors complicate the way correctional managers deal with female offenders. This article shows that these factors can be elucidated further by comparative research. For comparative purposes Scotland, as an example of an established democratic country, and South Africa, as an example of an emerging democracy with a deeply rooted history of oppression, were chosen as the country sites for this research. Focus group studies with sentenced female offenders were conducted by the researcher at the Cornton Vale female prison in Scotland and at female prisons in South Africa. A number of sentenced female offenders with minor children outside the prison were selected for in-depth interviews in both countries. The comparative study found that female prisoners with minor children outside prison suffered additional pains of imprisonment in both countries. However, it concluded that more effective practical steps to alleviate these negative aspects were taken in Scotland and that South African correctional services could benefit from following the Scottish example.


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