By OLIVIA MILNE, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
The spirit in the Georgian Room today was one of collaboration as members of the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee worked today to determine what should be done to rehabilitate and reintegrate female prisoners into society.
Anyone who’s ever seen an episode of Orange is the New Black can agree that life in prison is a life-altering experience, with many negative side effects. Today, SOCHUM debated how best to help rehabilitate female prisoners.
As stated by a delegate of Belarus, many of the issues discussed in SOCHUM are not necessarily controversial in nature. Most members can agree that the reintroduction of female prisoners to society is an honorable goal. The delegation of Finland argued that many of these prisoners have been victims of abuse and violence, and are deserving of a second chance. It was stated that these are not truly prisoners, but victims. However, what delegates mostly disagreed upon today was how to accomplish rehabilitation once these women are released back into society.
Some, such as the delegation of Switzerland, cited vocational training as the best way to ensure that once female prisoners are released, they do not commit crimes and become incarcerated again. Slovakia described education as the key to a better life for those who have been incarcerated. Pakistan echoed this sentiment, urging nations to adopt plans that would encourage national companies across the globe to hire former female prisoners. The delegation from Tunisia also was concerned with providing vocational training for these women, but was also one of the delegations that was more concerned with the mental health of prisoners.
The delegations of Russia, Finland, and Uzbekistan were part of a working paper of many nations that were concerned with this very issue. As delegates rushed to complete working papers by the 2:30 deadline, these nations were particularly concerned with protecting the maternal, mental health of these prisoners with children. As the delegation of Canada stated, nearly fifty percent of female prisoners have been victims of sexual abuse, drug abuse, and domestic violence. Finland reminded delegates in the room that we often think these women can be released and return to a normal life, but many of them have no life to return to. Many nations cited mental health services for incarcerated and former female prisoners as one of the most important ways in which these women can begin to recover.
Although there were several schools of thought as to which method was best for reintegrating female prisoners to society, many in the room had similar ideas. The atmosphere was not one of wide disagreement, but rather of cooperation. Many members of the committee could be spotted outside of the Georgian Room combining working papers, compromising on resolutions and working in groups over sometimes ten or more delegations. Collaboration was the name of the game in SOCHUM today.