A mother in prison, whether she is there because she was defending a cause or because she is a victim of society, is forced to spend time away from her children. During this time, she needs legal entitlements for the protection of her rights as a prisoner and her special rights as a mother. In most countries around the world, especially where many mothers are among political and conscience prisoners, these rights have never been respected.
But this isn’t the only problem faced by mothers in prison. Many imprisoned mothers around the world speak of a sense of guilt. The stigma of “a mother in prison” is not solely imposed by judicial systems and governments. The society, with its stereotype of what a “Mother” should look like, stigmatizes her imprisonment and take its upon itself to remind her of the suffering borne by her children.
To change this universal view and to force judicial systems to respect the rights of prisoners, especially rights deserved by mothers in prison, we should name a Day of Mothers in Prison and add it to the calendar of civil struggles. This is an opportunity to remember those who are forgotten, sometimes due to political reasons and sometimes due to an unprincipled approach to the question of crime and prison. With naming a day after them, we will be able to remember, at least once a year, those prisoners who in addition to going through security pressures and spending jail time have to suffer a double punishment for being a “Mother” for the role society has imposed on them.
This day is an opportunity for us to remember that imprisoned mothers, away from any sense of guilt imposed on them by a traditional outlook, should enjoy special conditions and have access to contact with their children. This day would be a small opportunity for us to remember those mothers who have spent time in prison alongside their children, from the times of the Pahlavi regime to the dark 1980’s and beyond. This day is also a reminder that if the imprisoned mother has made a mistake, she has already been punished by incarceration and we should support her return to the bosom of society. And if a mother finds herself in prison due to her civil and social activities, pressing her by abusing her maternal feelings counts as violence against a human being.
Finally, this day can be an opportunity for us to, together with civil activists and governments, address governments and call on them to pay special attention to rights and fundamental needs of mothers in prison, whether they are political and conscience prisoners or ordinary ones, to prepare alternative punishments in lieu of imprisonment, to improve the lives of mothers and children in jail, to eliminate aggravated pressures that are imposed on mothers by using their maternal emotions.
To dedicate a day in calendar to this, one could pick a number of occasions. Sadly, in Iran, every day reminds us of many mothers who have been imprisoned in our contemporary history, from Pahlavi times to today, for their struggles for justice and equality. These mothers in prison have sometimes shared cells with mothers who are victims of poverty, addiction or smuggling and they have shared their pains of being away from their children. Picking a symbolic day is not easy but it is necessary to create sympathy and to build a rational space for discussions on the subject of “Mothers in Prison.”
Our information on the history of mothers in prison, especially those imprisoned on ordinary crimes, is very limited. In the memoirs written by imprisoned women during the Shah’s era, there is little mention of motherhood. A rare example is that of the late Vida Hajebi who, in her book Memoirs, speaks in detail of meeting her son, Ramin, in the Qasr prison and the pain of a mother in being away from a child. After the revolution and the dark events of the 1980’s, one could write many books on the suffering of mothers in prison and their small children but, during all the years past, the memoirs written by political prisoners have paid scant attention to motherhood and femininity.
The insistence of women prisoners on their identity as Mothers in Prison has started in the last decade; especially from the Green movement where mothers started writing their “Letters from the Heart” to their children and also led protests and hunger strikes. Mothers like Nasrin Sotoodeh who led a hunger strike while demanding meeting her children and protesting against the insecure conditions of her child.
The signatories of this statement have picked a recent event to honor a symbolic day in the memory of Mothers in Prison. This is the day when Narges Mohammadi, the human rights and women’s rights activist and a current prisoner in the women’s section of the Evin prison, sent her children to another country because she knew that, with her in jail, her children are to be without parents. This is why she sent them to a faraway land to live with their father who had had to leave the country two years before due to security pressures. It was two years ago, on July 17, when Narges Mohammadi bid her children goodbye.
From that day on, she regularly writers her “Letters from the Heart of a Mother” in which she protests the infringement on her rights and that of other mothers and speaks of the common suffering faced by mothers in prison, irrespective of the reason they are in prison for. In her “Letters”, she has described what she has faced as a mother in prison. We believe that such a day can be a basis to focus on an aspect of the conditions faced by mothers in prison that had remained unwritten before. With her “Letters from the Heart”, Narges Mohammadi has exposed a secret that lay heavy in the heart of many mothers for years.
We, with proposing the naming of a day as the Day of Mothers in Prison, ask you to join us, to register this day in your calendar and to, at least once a year on this day, remember mothers imprisoned throughout history by acting for mothers in prison today. We hope to reach the recognition of the heavy responsibility faced by mothers who are political and conscience prisoners, reduce the stigma that society and the legal system imposes on mothers in prison, and ultimately safeguard the rights of mothers in prison to have access to their children.
Feb 12, 2018 Comments Off on Iranian intellectuals call for a UN sponsored referendum to choose a new system of governance
Jan 12, 2018 Comments Off on FOUR NOBEL PEACE LAUREATES URGE IRAN TO RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF PROTESTERS
Oct 24, 2017 Comments Off on Spring 2018 American Physical Society Prizes and Awards Announced
Jul 18, 2017 Comments Off on The Day of Iranian Mothers in Prison,let’s protect women’s rights
Feb 14, 2018 Comments Off on The Guardian: Iranian intellectuals call for referendum amid political unrestSaeed Kamali Dehghan Iran correspondent Wed 14 Feb 2018 A group of prominent Iranian intellectuals have said they have lost hope that the Islamic Republic can reform, and have called for a referendum to establish whether the ruling establishment is still backed by a majority. A day after Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, touted the idea […]
Feb 12, 2018 Comments Off on Iranian intellectuals call for a UN sponsored referendum to choose a new system of governanceFifteen Iranian public intellectuals dismayed by four decades of the Islamic Republic rule, in a statement released on Sunday to coincide with the 39th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, call for a UN-sponsored referendum for Iranians to choose a new political system for their country. The group of intellectuals which include internationally renowned […]
Feb 05, 2018 Comments Off on Iran protests are fire under ashesLONDON, United Kingdom (Kurdistan 24) – After heavy government crackdown, the seemingly spontaneous nation-wide protests in Iran have been silenced, but a Nobel Peace Prize winner says the rage is ever present and will flame up at the next chance. Late in December 2017, Iranians took to the streets to protest the sluggish economy. The […]
Jan 12, 2018 Comments Off on FOUR NOBEL PEACE LAUREATES URGE IRAN TO RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF PROTESTERSOttawa – January 11, 2018 Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to conduct credible independent investigations into the use of violence, especially lethal violence, and mass arrests in reaction to protests held in 75 cities across the country, beginning on December 28, 2017. […]
Jul 08, 2017 Comments Off on Report by the Centre for Defenders of Human Rights to the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur regarding the inspection of Evin Prison by foreign ambassadorsFriday 7 July 2017 – 16 Tir 1396 In the wake of the publication of the news about the visit to Evin Prison by 50 ambassadors of different countries, the Centre for Defenders of Human Rights has sent a letter to the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the […]
Apr 13, 2016 Comments Off on Guidelines for a transparent and merit-based system for the appointment of high level judgeFor the full report in English click below link: Guidelines for a transparent and merit based system for the appointment of high level judge
Jun 27, 2017 Comments Off on The Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights: Avoid expressing anarchy-inspiring remarksTuesday- 6th of Tir 1396- 27 June 2017 In continuation of its monthly reports, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights has reviewed the situation of human rights in Iran during the month of Khordad 1396 [Iranian month corresponding to 22 May to 21 June 2017] The Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights, […]
May 21, 2017 Comments Off on The elected president should start monitoring the performance of the Ministry of IntelligenceIn continuation of its monthly reports, the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights has reviewed the situation of human rights in Iran during the month of Ordebehesht 1396 [21 April to 21 May 2017]. The Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights, which is presided over by Shirin Ebadi, has referred to the holding […]
Jul 21, 2016 Comments Off on Why won’t my fellow Nobelist Aung San Suu Kyi help a Muslim minority?