THE CARCERAL COLONY AND ENTANGLEMENT OF GENDER: THEORIZING WOMEN IMPRISONMENT IN KENYA

John Ndungu Kungu, Babere Kerata Chacha, Peter Waweru

Abstract


In the second half of the nineteenth century, a certain dissatisfaction becomes apparent in the records of British concerned themselves with crime and its punishment in colonial Kenya. Broadly speaking, there was a growing perception that there were serious problems with the manner in which women entered the labor market and crime associated with it and on the other hand, how the colonial state punished female offenders. While some observers questioned whether imprisonment in colonial jails was particularly punishing, others expressed alarm that such incarceration was actually counterproductive: that instead of reforming and rehabilitating women criminals, British prisons contributed to their further demoralizations. One is that the most basic mechanism through which long-term female convicts were to be reformed were vocational training and a comprehensive segregation: the isolation of the offender not only from families, non-criminals and free society, but also from men, other female criminals, the idle, the sick, and assorted other contaminating influences. These processes were expected to transform convicted women into productive, orderly and modest members of the laboring class. Such sentiments contributed to the philosophy of the female prison in Kenya. This study, therefore, focuses its attention on the history of Langata women prison, the only female corrective institution in Kenya. The objective of the study was to examine its establishment, development dynamics and the impacts it had on women, crime and punishment.

 

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carceral, gender, imprisonment, theorizing, punishment

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References


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