This Mother’s Day, turn your thoughts to mothers imprisoned around the world, including right here in the United States. In some countries, young children are even incarcerated alongside their mothers. While mothers are in prison in nearly every country in the world, the problem is particularly acute in the seven countries highlighted below.
Russia Today recently profiled the Mozhaysk women's prison in a half-hour long documentary. Mothers in the prison can visit their children for only two hours a day. The children themselves live inside the prison colony but are cared for in a designated childcare center.
Mothers with good behavior can request to live with their child full-time and their request will be considered by a review board, although only nine co-residence rooms are available for this purpose.
In the Kathmandu Women's Prison, 15 children live alongside their mothers because "with their sole carer in jail, they have nowhere else to go." According to Nepal's Department of Prison Management, over eighty children live in prisons across Nepal.
A private charity in Nepal called Prisoner's Assistance Nepal is working to change this situation. It currently provides housing for over a hundred children of inmates so that children will not have to join their mothers in jail.
While the Nepalese government is legally required to provide education for all children living in jail, "officials at the Women's Prison acknowledged that the provisions have not been fully implemented due to lack of government funds."
A two-month immigration visa amnesty in Dubai led to the imprisonment of ten children when their mothers were charged with "adultery, sex outside marriage and having illegitimate children."
The mothers turned themselves in for immigration violations along with 61,000 others but ended up being slapped with unrelated charges. Adultery is illegal in Dubai. At least one of the mothers is currently serving five months in prison for the charges.
In 2007, 65,600 mothers with a child under the age of 18 were serving time in prisons across America. The vast majority of these mothers have previously received treatment for drug/alcohol problems or mental health issues.
Just over half of these mothers provided the primary financial support for their minor child before being incarcerated.
Prison officials in the United States have also been trying prison-based nursery programs. Research has found that "when adequate resources are available for prison nursery programs, women who participate show lower rates of recidivism, and their children show no adverse affects as a result of their participation."
Iran's persecution of the Baha'i faith has led to the detainment of babies alongside their Baha'i mothers.
In March, UN human rights expert Ahmed Shaheed told Fox News that "two women, Zohreh Nikayin (Tebyanian) and Taraneh Torabi (Ehsani) ... are reportedly nursing infants in prison."
Shaheed called the Baha'i "single most important persecuted community" in Iran.
Sixty-two children share a cell with their mother in Afghanistan’s Badam Bagh prison. These mothers are often accused of "moral crimes," including trying to divorce abusive husbands. Some mothers have not even been charged with a crime.
Unlike Russia, where the children of prisoners have a separate childcare facility, the children in Badam Bagh share their mothers' cells, which often house up to six people. These mothers can serve up to seven years for trying to divorce their husbands.
The Independent reports that more than half of the 10,000 women imprisoned in the U.K. in 2011 were mothers. Like the U.S., the U.K. also sometimes allows young children to live with their mothers in a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU). As of September 2012, about 80 children participated in the program.
Space in an MBU is highly coveted and reserved for women with good behavior and a commitment to a clean lifestyle. The program also helps teach mothers parenting skills including cooking.