A FOUR-month-old baby is in jail at Dedza Prison. Chimwemwe Abraham has already served one month of the 12 months that her mother was slapped with by the magistrate's court.
For a fight that the mother picked with a friend and the injuries that the friend incurred as a result of the fight, four-months-old innocent child is now to serve a year-long term.
"That is what this means. My child will have to be with me for the duration of the sentence," says the mother who admits guilt and having wounded her colleague in the said fight.
Although innocent, Chimwemwe must live prisoners' daily routine life; getting locked up along the eight only women in the female section of the prison and out at nine in the morning.
Prisoners at Dedza District Prison are allowed out at nine every morning and locked back in later at three in the afternoon.
Human rights activist Gift Trapence said in an interview that government has to treat such cases as emergency and ensure that the rights of all children in this situation are protected.
"We have community service in this country. I think these are the kind of cases where community service should be used. We should also look at the gravity of the offence committed.
"Surely this woman should have been considered that in view of the fact that she has such a young baby," he said observing that imprisoning such a mother is imprisoning the child and therefore infringing on the rights of the child
"In this case, the child is serving a prison sentence on the grounds of the mother. The child in this case will serve a jail term of one year," Trapence said, adding "Is state going to compensate the child for serving the mother's sentence? Something must be done here".
A social welfare officer speaking in her personal capacity said the environment such children are living in is not de-signed for child upbringing such that this is tantamount to abuse.
"In such circumstances our justice system should take things seriously. Child protection must seriously be invoked to ensure that children are not victimised because of their parents. Chimwemwe being abused," she said.
She said this should be a wakeup call for the country to take another look at the prison services in terms of taking care and providing for such innocent children
"We need to have structures where children in such situations are protected and provided what they require," she said