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The Mothers Project

The Mothers Project: connecting women in prison with their kids

People’s right probably needs to be respected to provide support for whatever particular group they wish to. Others, especially men, perhaps could set up a similar support system to help male inmates locate and reconnect with their children, including help to understand Family Court documents and to participate to the full extent of their rights in processes concerning their children.

But are there ethical problems with the Mothers Project?

Firstly, is it acceptable to provide a service to incarcerated offenders on the basis of their gender? If so, then would the authorities tolerate a similar support service only for men, or white people, or any other particular group?

The rhetoric from the Mothers Project talks about how children benefit from having imprisoned mothers in their lives. Fair enough, but providing a service exclusively to mothers and talking about maternal importance without any hint of reference to fathers implies that fathers don’t matter.

Secondly, to what extent does the Mothers Project function as part of the war against men, in this case encouraging mothers to use the Family Court against the fathers of their children? Those fathers are often doing their best to parent their children while the mothers are in prison, and often trying to protect the children from confusion and hurt associated with their mothers’ behaviour and/or from the mothers’ criminal, antisocial attitudes. The rhetoric from the project leaders shows how much they seek to shift any blame away from female criminals for their offending, and there does seem to be a feminist crusade mentality underlying this.

Thirdly, is it acceptable for a service to choose its volunteers on sexist grounds? Only female lawyers are accepted as volunteers.

Fourth, would the prison authorities provide the same level of support to a service aimed exlusively at men in male prisons?

Fifth, to what extent is this a marketing exercise for lawyers? The volunteers are said to refer women on to legal aid lawyers to pursue Family Court action. Although their web site states that most of the volunteers are not Family Court lawyers, this means that some unspecified number are and there is no mention that family lawyers cannot be volunteers. So some of the Family Court lawyer volunteers are being sent clients by other Family Court lawyer volunteers, a cosy little income generator. Anyway, regardless of the legal field of the volunteers, they are sending new clients to their sisters in family law.

What do others think?