Women ‘key’ in jails

2013-08-31 00:00

WOMEN play a key role in the core business of Correctional Services: rehabilitation. That was the message from Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele addressing female correctional officials from across the country yesterday at a Women’s Month commemoration at the Westville Correctional Centre.

“We have moved from ‘prisons’ to ‘corrections’ and we are emphasising rehabilitation and reintegration into society,” Ndebele said at an earlier press briefing, adding that there was an emphasis on the role of women in that process. “Women have got that touch that even the most hardened offenders respond to and facilitates their rehabilitation into society.

“Offenders see themselves as human beings when others see them as human beings.”

Ndebele said DCS was aiming for 50% male and 50% female representivity. “We are getting more and more black, coloured, Indian, and white women recruits.”

As at last January, at deputy director-general level the gender ratio was 58% males to 42% females. However, at lower salary levels (three to seven) there were 72% males. Ndbelele insisted equal gender representivity in DCS was a non-negotiable.

Ndebele did not minimise the challenges faced by women correctional officials. “There is violence against women inside correctional centres,” he said. “Women officials go to see people convicted of rape. That is an added challenge for them compared to other officials.”

Ndebele said many women DCS officials staffed rehabilitation and education centres. “Women are coming to the fore, not with the baton to beat up people, but with the book.”

Of a prision population of over 150 000 inmates, only 2 525 are women, according to Ndebele. “And we want to reduce that,” he said.

Ndebele told the officials: “In our constitutional democracy, we no longer tolerate the brute, authoritarian paradigm that characterised prisons in the past.

“You are all rehabilitators. Your joy in your profession should derive from the fact that you are modifying people’s lives for the good of society.”

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