International Human Rights Day and Rights of Incarcerated Parents

Launch of National Guidelines for Incarcerated Women with Children

Ottawa – This past September, an international coalition of researchers released a set of guidelines that will set national standards for the treatment of incarcerated women who are pregnant or in custody with children. The Guidelines were drafted by the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education (CCPHE).

While cases like that of Julie Bilotta have garnered national attention and sparked protests, the traumatic experiences of separation and poor health care are still commonplace in the context of incarceration.

In recognition of this and International Human Rights Day, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights welcomes and endorses these long-awaited recommendations. Action Canada is joining the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives, the Parent/Child Coalition for Justice and the prison programming from the AIDS Committee of Ottawa to host the Ottawa launch of the Mother-Baby Prison Health Guidelines on 9 December and provide a space to gather and discuss the rights of incarcerated parents to nurse and bond with their babies.

The event will be an opportunity to show the realities of people having to give birth in prison and the need to work on sustainable and culturally safe alternatives to criminalization and incarceration.

Sandeep Prasad, Action Canada’s executive director points out that “many factors can greatly impact how individuals exercise and claim their sexual and reproductive rights as well as access quality health services and information. Being incarcerated is certainly one. This is particularly concerning in the context of the targeted profiling, policing and criminalization of marginalized populations in Canada.”

Krysta Williams from the Native Youth Sexual Health Network summed it up perfectly when she said, “We know that Indigenous young women are incarcerated at much higher rates, yet also face significant amounts of violence, including State violence. This speaks to the fact that while our bodies remain over-criminalized, our rights continue to be under-protected. Every possible effort should be made for pregnant women, mothers and babies to receive care in their community and to find sustainable alternatives to incarceration.”

To address the issue, Dr Amy Salmon, member of the CCPHE planning committee calls on “provincial ministries of children and family development, health and justice, regional health and social service authorities, non-governmental organisations, and community groups to begin implementing the guidelines nationally in their work.”

To learn more about the rights of incarcerated parents to nurse and bond with their babies, join Action Canada, the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives on Dec. 9, 2015 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the launch of Mother-Baby Prison Health Guidelines.

The event will be held at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Center, a wheelchair accessible venue. For more information visit

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Ani Colekessian
+1 613 241 4474 x7


Posted on 2015-07-12