Pretoria - South African correctional centres were designed for men, and are not appropriate for women's needs, says Correctional Services Deputy Minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize.
Mkhize, delivering her department's budget vote in Parliament on Thursday, expressed concern over the high number of female offenders at correctional centres throughout the country. There are currently 3651 women detained in correctional centres.
"Certainly, locking women in facilities, designed for men, violates their rights to inherent human dignity and deprives them of their gender specific needs.
"As signatories to the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, we are obliged to put in place a series of measures that eliminate gender discrimination and promote and protect women's rights and equality," she said.
Mkhize said as a department, they have an obligation to protect the rights of arrested, detained and accused persons, including the right to conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity.
The department has spearheaded an innovative project of removing babies from correctional centres.The Project, known as Imbeleko, has been launched in five regional centers and will be launched in Gauteng next week.
"The next phase, starting from April 2010, entails monitoring and evaluating how the project is implemented by our officials, maintaining and expanding partnerships with role players and improving mother-and-child units in DCS facilities," added Mkhize.