6 June 2023 - Virtual: UNODC held an advocacy webinar on Gender and Imprisonment for prison authorities and healthcare staff, as well as members of CSOs working in prisons in 10 countries* in Southern Africa to
facilitate the effective application of UNODC and partner’s guidance and monitoring tool for prevention of mother-to-child (vertical) transmission of HIV in prison, and
raise awareness of the health and human rights of transgender people in closed settings.
Data show that women and transgender people in prison have a disproportionately higher prevalence of HIV in prison settings, yet inadequate or denied access to healthcare. “Reducing inequalities and enhancing access to prevention and treatment services for women and for transgender people in prison can only be achieved with measures including comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare services and sustained continuity of care”, emphasized Dr Ehab Salah, Advisor, Prisons and HIV, UNODC.
Ms Cinzia Brentari, International Consultant, UNODC, presented the Technical Guide for PMTCT in Prison and related Monitoring Tool, highlighting their aim to support countries in increasing their capacity to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV in prisons, to achieve the SDG 3.3 target to end AIDS as public health threat by 2030.
Moderated by Mr Gunasekaran Rengaswamy, Regional Programme Officer for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care in Southern Africa, UNODC, the following prison authorities shared country experience regarding women and the availability of gender-specific healthcare services in prison: Ms Roeleen Booi, Director, Health Services, Department of Correctional Service, South Africa, Dr Edgar Mutimushi, Head of Correctional Medical Services, Zambia Correctional Service, Mr Phoka Scout, Senior Assistant Commissioner, Health Services, Lesotho Correctional Service, and Ms Cremilde Anli, Chief Superintendent and National Director of the Health Care Service at Servicio Nacional de Áreas Protegidas (SERNAP), Mozambique
Next, Ms Karima Benamara, International Consultant, UNODC, introduced the Technical Brief on Transgender People and HIV in Prison, noting that “this technical brief is a first step to raising awareness of the needs of transgender people in prison and incorporate the proposed evidence and human rights based interventions and international standards into prison policies and strategies.” Ms Doreen Gaura, Senior Programme Officer, Just Detention International, South Africa, stressed that the rights of incarcerated transgender people must upheld in prison, for example, by providing them with all necessary information, including on safety concerns, and avoiding segregation and protective custody at all costs, unless the individual chooses it for themselves.
With Southern Africa remaining at the epicentre of the HIV epidemic, and women carrying the heaviest HIV burden, next steps include scaling up and monitoring sexual and reproductive healthcare, and engaging CSOs to ensure uninterrupted HIV services for people in contact with criminal justice.
* Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe