We may think that in Western societies we’ve come a long way regarding the advances made by women.
Then, before we get too smug, something happens which forces us to confront the fact that we’re not quite as enlightened or civilised as we like to think.
Such an incident occurred last week in the United States of America when it was reported that a the authorities were negligent when Diana Sanchez, a pregnant woman who was being held in Denver County Jail, was denied proper medical treatment. The woman’s cries for help were allegedly ignored for 5 hours and she was forced to give birth to her son in the prison cell.
Had something similar occurred in the UK, lawyers might have been looking at Section 17 of the Equality Act 2010 (pregnancy and maternity discrimination: non-work cases) to provide grounds for a legal challenge against the operators of a prison. Clearly, this sort of failure by the authorities to implement a basic duty of care could be viewed as blatant sex discrimination.
In 2019, would have been too difficult for the Denver County Jail authorities to have ensured that this particular inmate had access to to the appropriate medical facilities? Surely, given her condition, this was not asking too much?
Lawyers for Ms Sanchez are now, unsurprisingly, pursuing a civil action against Denver County Sheriff’s Department.
A link to the story as reported by Sky News can be found below:
Lest we become judgemental about the US Penal system, on 4 October 2019, The Guardian reported that the new born child of an inmate at HM Prison Bronzefield in Surrey had died. The mother had been in an “advanced state” of pregnancy, but had been left alone in her cell overnight when she had given birth to the child.
A link to the story can be found below:
Copyright Seán J Crossan, 10 September and 4 October 2019