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Colombia: Mother and child section renovated in Bogotá women’s prison

10-10-2002 News Release 02/41

Daniel lives with his mother in El Buen Pastor women’s prison, Bogotá. At three and a half, he has spent his entire life behind bars.

On 2 October, Daniel and the 21 other children aged four and under who live in El Buen Pastor gathered to celebrate the opening of the mother and child section renovated by the ICRC in conjunction with the Colombian National Prison Institute (INPEC).

In the space of two months, 15 additional cells were built, along with a dining room and bathrooms (including an area for children), so that all mothers and children could live in the same section.

At the same time, the central area of the section was turned into a park, so that Daniel and his friends could play around the crèche they attend from 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., where they are looked after by personnel from the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF).

By the end of the party, it was clear how much the 22 children liked their new home. They had great fun painting one of the section’s walls with their hands and feet, and leaving colourful hand prints on the clothes of the ICRC delegates who had helped make it all possible.

ICRC delegates are making regular visits to women’s prisons in Colombia. Currently, some 3,500 women are in jail. As well as monitoring the situation of women detained in connection with the armed conflict, the delegates are working to improve the living conditions and health of the prison population as a whole. The INPEC has recently accepted the ICRC’s suggestion of devoting one week a year to the early detection of breast cancer in all the prisons for which it is responsible, and the ICRC has just produced an educational leaflet on the subject. Breast cancer early detection week will begin on 8 March every year – International Women’s Day.