Uganda’s Internal Affairs Ministry has allocated Shs94 million to cater for the purchase of sanitary towels for the 1, 500 women in Ugandan prisons in the financial year 2013/2014.
This was after Members of Parliament on Tuesday tasked the Ministry to appropriate money for women inmates to purchase sanitary towels. It had been noted that the ministry’s Ministerial Policy Statement had not specified any allocation for the towels.
The MPs also refused consider the policy statement of Uganda Prisons Service without the allocation being effected. The MPs argued that women in prison have challenges with how to deal with their menstrual periods as they do not have money to purchase towels themselves.
James Baba, the State Minister of Internal Affairs, noted that the Internal Affairs technical team and the Under Secretary of Uganda Police Force had confirmed that in the ministry’s policy statement under Uganda Prisons they had a provision for sanitary towels for women in prisons but that it was not enough.
He noted that the Ministry’s technical team and Police Under Secretary had managed to find some money equivalent to 94 million shillings for the 1,500 women inmates to provide for their sanitary towels.
In the Internal Affairs Ministerial Policy Statement 2013/2014, 400 million shillings had been allocated for all sanitary requirements inclusive of sanitary pads, soap and razor blades. The allocation stems from the Uganda Prisons’ vote function of prison and correctional services, welfare and rehabilitation.
Out of the Shs400 million shillings, the Ministry has now allocated Shs94 million for sanitary pads only.
Jovah Kamateeka, the Chairperson of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee and district woman representative Mitooma, commended the effort by the ministry to find more money for women in prisons but wondered whether the money is specifically for sanitary towels or it included other toiletries.
She noted that recently her committee visited Mbale prisons and found who had not been availed soap for a month because they did not have anyone to buy it for them.
Woman MP Mbarara Emma Boona said she was also concerned about the diet or lack of it to cater for the babies of women prisoners.
She said Mbarara prison did not have a specific diet for babies in the facility.
Boona said she was informed that when the incarcerated mothers can no longer breastfeed their babies, they feed them on posho and beans.
Koboko Woman MP Baba Diri Margret asked whether the 94 million shillings allocation had been done after the Ministry calculated the need in the prisons.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga noted that at least the House had made some progress on the issue of sanitary towels saying that there was no provision before and now one was in place.
Kadaga asked the Internal Affairs and Defence Committee to monitor and see the effectiveness of the figure allocated by the ministry and then report to the House next financial year.
She noted that she was happy that at least money had been found and that the women can walk and sleep in dignity even if they are in prison.
MP Fox Odoi, representing West Budama North Constituency, said that every Ugandan has a constitutional right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.
He noted that being in prison; it is in its degrading enough and that if you subject a woman in prison to do without sanitary towels, it is a violation.
Milton Muwuma, the outgoing Internal Affairs and Defence Committee chairperson and representative of Kigulu South confirmed that the Internal Affairs ministry had written to the committee about the new allocations.
The House then chaired by Kadaga adopted the report from the committee on the Ministerial Policy Statement.