The plight of children of under trial and convicted mothers, is palpable. – File Photo

PESHAWAR: “I do not miss my father because he left us,” says Masoom tightly holding ludo board, the only game that he played inside the women populated barrack of Peshawar's Central Jail.

Perhaps it is true that the sins of the parents are visited upon their children when one talks to innocent children living with their convicted and undertrial mothers inside the prison.

Masoom, only six, has learnt bitter lessons much earlier in life. He recently began taking preparatory class inside the prison but it seemed he's dejected with the fact that he was living in prison.

“I know what a jail is. Here bad people are kept and prosecuted,” he told Dawn expressing his boredom and unhappiness at having to live with so many women in one place.“These women fight all the time,” said Masoom whose mother was under trial in a murder case.

He also said relatives excommunicated his family so no one was looking forward to their coming out of the jail.

His mother Sania (not real name) told Dawn that she had eight children and brought two of them, Masoom and his younger sister, to prison as there was no one at home to take care of them.

Masoom's father is an Afghan prayer leader, who left the family without saying anything four years ago, said Sania explaining why the child said he didn't miss his father.

Another 12-year-old girl, who was doing the dishes, said she and her 13-year-old sister were in jail as her brother was accused of kidnapping a girl, who eloped with him.

“My mother is also in Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail for narcotics smuggling, while my father is a podri (heroin addict),” said the green-eyed girl, who wanted to live with her grandmother though her trial had yet not begun.

Among 42 inmates of women barrack at Peshawar Central Jail, those who have children with them said they had no one else outside to take care of their children.

However, convicted or undertrial women, whose children were either inside or outside the prison, thought the place was bad for minors.

Some said their children, who had to face the stigma of being child of a convict, were the only force, which forced them to begin a new and reformed life once they completed their term.

Forty-year-old Aneela (not real name), who was convicted of narcotics smuggling, repented her crime, saying it has kept her away from children.

“I have three children, who currently live with their father,” she said with misty eyes.

Another mother of four aged between five and 10 years said on condition of anonymity that she missed her children but never wished that they visited her in jail.

“My husband did not look after me and divorced me. I got into narcotics smuggling for financial reasons but now, I have to go through the agony of not being with my children,” she said.

The woman plans to set up a beauty salon to earn a living for her children after getting out of jail in six months. However, the money needed for it is her worry.

Another woman, who had a one-year-old daughter with her and was facing murder trial, said she was worried about the remaining three children.

“I am keeping my little daughter here but I know seeing jail and its environment is going to have a bad effect on her mind. Every mother wants best for her child,” said the woman, who was accused by her in-laws of killing husband.



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