Topic One: The Rights of Children of Incarcerated Parents
Children of incarcerated parents are posed with unique challenges throughout their lives. The Convention on the Rights of the Child does, however, outline the rights of those children born to and/or having incarcerated parents.
Some relevant excerpts from Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child include:
3: States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.
4: Where such separation results from any action initiated by a State Party, such as the detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death (including death arising from any cause while the person is in the custody of the State) of one or both parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family unless the provision of the information would be detrimental to the well-being of the child. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall of itself entail no adverse consequences for the person(s) concerned.
Furthermore, from Article 12:
- States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
- For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
These children may also face the stigma associated with imprisonment, although they themselves have done nothing wrong.
Some risks posed to children whose parents are incarcerated include but are not limited to the risk of deprivation of necessities and opportunities, the risk of danger of secondary victimization and depersonalization, the risk of deterioration of the overall situation, the risk of distance from their incarcerated parent, and the risk of developing antisocial behaviour tendencies.
There are, of course, factors which may influence the experience of the child, including but not limited to the age and maturity of the child, which parent is imprisoned, availability of alternative guardians, and trust/fear of authority figures.
Topic Two: Feminine Hygiene and Menstrual Products
In May 2018, the UNFPA published a report linking stigma and shame around menstruation to human rights concerns for women and girls.
The shame, stigma, and misinformation regarding menstruation “undermine[s] the well-being of women and girls, making them vulnerable to gender discrimination, child marriage, exclusion, violence, poverty, and untreated health problems.”
Access to menstrual products can be very limited or impossible to achieve in the developing world. Even in areas with access to menstrual products, they can be exorbitantly expensive. Without proper hygienic products, many girls are forced to stop attending school. Researchers had found that the self-reported absence of girls increased five-fold during menstruation compared to when the same girls were not menstruating.
Studies have found that schoolgirls in Kenya have been known to engage in transactional sex in order to pay for menstrual products.
Several countries (such as Kenya and Uganda) have, in recent years, removed taxes from menstrual products, or taxes on local resources used to manufacture menstrual products (in Zimbabwe.)
A recent study from Uganda found that 90.5% of girls surveyed failed to meet standard criteria for adequate MHM, or Menstrual Hygiene Management. Some criteria for MHM include “[t]he provision of safe, private, and hygienic water and sanitation facilities for changing menstrual materials and bathing, easy access to water inside or near toilets, supplies (e.g. laundry soap, separate basin) for washing and drying menstrual materials discreetly, disposal systems through waste management, and access to practical information on MHM, for adolescent girls in particular.” (Sommer et al, 2015a).