Quick Impact Project decongests prison in Wau, offering better conditions for female inmates

unmiss south sudan wau western bahr el ghazal state prison female inmates decongestion improved conditions

Getting ready for a big day: the inauguration of UNMISS-funded, much-improved prison facilities in Wau, Western Bahr-el-Ghazal State. Photos: Alahayi Nemaya/UNMISS

31 Aug 2021

Quick Impact Project decongests prison in Wau, offering better conditions for female inmates

Alahayi Nemaya

While serving time in jail is unlikely to feature on anyone’s bucket list, inmates at the central prison in Wau have recently been given a reason to celebrate: the addition of a ward capable of hosting 80 female law offenders is expected to significantly decongest the corrections facilities, thus increasing the quality of life for those behind bars.

‘’This prison ward is spacious, it has a veranda and big windows for us,’’ says one beneficiary, a woman convicted of murder. ‘’My baby needs a lot of space to play as she’s crawling and practicing walking. Other inmates used to complain about my baby playing on their beds and messing up their belongings,’’ she adds.

 It is easy to see why the previously overcrowded premises did not represent an ideal playground, as men, women and juvenile offenders shared the same cells, washrooms and other facilities.

The newly constructed ward, funded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan as one of its Quick Impact Projects, has a court room, reception, kitchen, eight toilets and bathrooms with some catering specifically for women’s hygienic needs.

A second pregnant inmate, due to give birth in September, is grateful for the many tangible improvements for women in her situation.

‘’I was worried of giving birth next to men, but now the prison administration has assured me that I will have a private space and the assistance of trained birth attendants,” she says, adding that pregnant women are also allowed to visit a doctor a couple of times a month.

Being safe from sometimes intimidating male inmates is appreciated by an imprisoned, 16-year-old girl as well.

‘’I felt threatened by the presence of so many men,’’ says the youngster, who could not afford to pay the fine of 50,000 South Sudanese pounds (approximately 120 USD) for allegedly having stolen household utensils and thus ended up in jail for six months. ‘’I can now wash myself properly and in private, without fear of being stigmatized by men seeing my dignity kit. That is priceless.”