WOMEN WHO HAVE KILLED: THE PSYCHO-SOCIAL EFFECTS OF PRISON LIFE

Zanele Nyamakai, Barbra Chiyedza Manyarara

Abstract


The female ex-prisoners interviewed in the semi-autobiographical collection A tragedy of lives: Women in prison in Zimbabwe (2003) caused the deaths of their own loved ones, consequently they were unable to mourn or bury them. The processing of the homicides precludes these women going through the appropriate rites and rituals which ordinarily form part of deaths in Zimbabwean cultural traditions. Variously manifesting in the experiences of the different women interviewed, the complex psychiatric and psychological problems observed in these women are attributable to incomplete mourning and unresolved grief which are linked to the social inadequacies of a necessarily truncated expression of that grief. The present textual analysis is dually guided by Africana womanist and psychoanalytic theoretical frameworks. The study establishes a shift by Zimbabwean women writers from merely highlighting issues that affect women, to taking a stance on the effects of imprisonment on female offenders both during and after incarceration. Empathy and optimism are shown towards the interviewees. The semi-autobiography also enables the generality of Zimbabweans to understand the effects of such crimes and the need to rehabilitate offenders. The study encourages harmonious co-existence between males and females in the postcolony.


Keywords


Causal factors; death and bereavement; homicide; interviewees; mourning rituals; and semi-autobiography;

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