Imagine being pregnant and hungry. Always hungry. Now imagine being hungry and locked in a room, unable to access food, for eight to 12 hours.
Imagine opening a carton of milk and being hit in the face with a rancid smell that makes your stomach turn. Now imagine that that is the only carton of milk you’re allowed to have with that meal.
As part of a six-month investigation for In These Times, I interviewed women who had been pregnant while incarcerated. These scenarios are some of the realities they faced.
Providing adequate food should be a basic responsibility of correctional facilities. But jails and prisons fail at this, especially when it comes to meeting the needs of pregnant women. If they can’t fulfill the basic obligation to provide adequate and nutritious food to expectant mothers, it begs the question: Is it ever possible for a woman to have a safe and healthy pregnancy behind bars? After listening to a dozen women share their stories, the answer is no.
Across the country, women have reported difficulty accessing food while pregnant. Doctors, midwives and pregnancy guides typically recommend that pregnant women eat three or more servings of fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein each day, as well as several servings of whole grain breads or other complex carbohydrates. But the women interviewed charged that their meals were far below these recommendations. And hunger was a recurring complaint. “It hurts to be hungry like that,” said Kandyce, summing up the sentiment of nearly every woman who shared her story with me.
LVikkimlis the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women. She has written extensively about incarceration, gender and resistance for various news outlets.
© and source/ rest: msmagazine (posted via inoreader/ ifttt).
(Excerpt etc. first posted on feimineach.com. Orig. attribution above.)