House of Hope helps Afghan women prisoners to reintegrate into society

Photo: UNODC Afghanistan

5 January 2012 - Women released from prison in Afghanistan often have nowhere to go. Often mothers of young children, former prisoners may face rejection by their communities and families, and lack a safe place where they can receive help in reintegrating into society. As of January 2011, prisons in Afghanistan held nearly 600 women and more than 280 minors.

In Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, UNODC, in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan and the non-governmental organization Women for Afghan Women (WAW), helps to run two post-release transition houses for women leaving prison. Each House of Hope can accommodate between 20 and 25 women and children.

The post-release transitional houses offer women instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic; life skills classes (such as money management, parenting, women's rights in Islam and Afghan law); vocational training; and job placement assistance. Former inmates also have access to drug addiction treatment; individual and group counselling; basic health care; family counselling; and mediation. The centres also facilitate family reunions, if needed, with a minimum six-month follow-up period, and reintegration into the community.

Additionally, the programme supports prison-leavers in finding jobs in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and other provinces. WAW also offers training in professional jewellery-making, using the designs of the New York-based jewellery designer Global Goods Partners. The women receive a percentage of the profits made.

Women for Afghan Women is a human rights organization based in Kabul and New York. It advocates for the rights of Afghan women and, through its programmes, helps to secure, protect and advance Afghan women's human rights. WAW provides services to women in crisis in eight provinces of Afghanistan.

Following two decades of armed conflict, the prison system in Afghanistan remains in desperate need of repair and development. A fully-functioning corrections system is an essential component of effective justice in post-conflict countries as governments work to re-establish the rule of law. UNODC is working with the Government of Afghanistan to reform the penitentiary system, aiming for a humane approach within prisons and detention centres and focusing specifically on the most vulnerable group of prisoners - women.

Related information:

UNODC in Afghanistan