Children with mothers in prison

his opinion, children’s homes in women’s colonies are a remnant from the Soviet
past. An announcement from his press office stated that, ‘The children’s homes
should be transferred from the colonies to municipalities’. The statement was
prompted by an incident that had occurred in a children’s home at the Mozhaisky
women’s colony where children has fallen ill as a result of an outbreak of
respiratory disease and a girl had died. The colony’s management sent all those
who fell ill to children’s hospitals in the region since both paediatricians
serving at the home had gone on maternity leave. Now 59 children aged three
months to eighteen months have been diagnosed with serious respiratory illness
or bronchitis and are in hospital. Criminal proceedings have been instituted
because of the girl’s death under Article 109, paragraph 2, of the Criminal
Code of the Russian Federation, which deals with causing death through
negligence owing to improper performance of professional duties. Investigations
are ongoing to try to clarify all the circumstances that led to the death. In
addition the investigators are looking to establish the severity of the
children’s illness.

have concluded that the girl’s death, at the age of 11 months, resulted from
respiratory insufficiency itself caused by purulent double pneumonia. Staff of
the federal prison service announced that her death was due to her possessing
low immunity. Mr Astakhov thinks that these justifications do not stand up to
critical examination, saying, ‘Double pneumonia is not passed on genetically.
Rather, it arises because of lack of vigilance and negligence by the staff of
the children’s home.’  The children’s
ombudsman raised the question of closing the home. ‘I think that this is a
clear sign of an unsatisfactory state of affairs and thus very serious’, he
stressed. Moreover, this is not the first incident of its kind in the
establishment.’ In September a five month old girl died in the home at the
colony, having choked when being fed. Mr Astakhov’s advisers and staff found
many shortcomings when they inspected the institution then. ‘One of the most
flagrant consisted in the lack of a licence for medical treatment. Children
either never received help or if they did, then it was provided illegally’,
said Mr Astakhov.


Altshuler, member of the Public Chamber and chief executive of Rights of the
Child, agrees that the situation where a children’s home is situated in a
prison system that is not set up to care for their health is odd. ‘This kind of
institution should come under the ministry of health and social security not
the federal prison management’, he told the ASI correspondent.


executive director of the charity, Complicity in Fate, and First Presidential
Ombudsman for the Rights of the Child, Aleksei Golovan, believes that small
children should not live in prison institutions at all. He told the ASI
correspondent in an interview that this is the reason he thinks the children’s
home might be dispensed with. ‘The children live in a closed institution which
exerts a powerful influence on the way they develop’, he explained.


Alshanskaya, president of the charity, Voluntary Aid for Parentless Children,
is concerned about what might happen to children if their home is closed. ‘What
alternative could the government come up with that would not involve separating
the children from their imprisoned mothers?’ she asks. She observed that
separating the children from their mothers could be traumatic for them. In her
opinion the only way of enabling the women to be with their children is for
their home to be in the colony.


1 October 2011 there were 60,800 women prisoners of whom 50,500 were in
colonies. These contained 13 children’s homes accommodating 812 children.

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