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Experiences of children impacted by maternal imprisonment living in children’s homes in Nepal

Subedi, BP (2024) Experiences of children impacted by maternal imprisonment living in children’s homes in Nepal. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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There is a dearth of knowledge about the children who have a parent or parents in Nepal's prisons in both academic and non-academic literature. This PhD study explored the largely unheard voices of the children of mother prisoners living in children's homes across Nepal. This study adopted an ethnographic approach based on social constructionism epistemology and symbolic interactionism philosophy. Accordingly, ethnographic fieldwork was carried out in Nepal in 2018. The fieldwork included multiple visits to children's homes and ongoing observations in those settings, complemented by many other formal and informal activities. Based on the Mosaic approach, this fieldwork centred on children's voices, offering children child-centred and multiple ways to communicate their experiences and perspectives. Children were invited to make drawings on several topics and were interviewed informally and more formally as I got to know them. The key issues discussed with children included children's lives before living in the children's home, their education, family members, their ongoing contact with parent(s), and children's concerns and perceptions on numerous other things that mattered to them. In addition, some staff members who worked in the homes were interviewed, and this enhanced contextual knowledge. Transcripts were analysed thematically, supported by the learning I gained from reading about data analysis in qualitative inquiry. This study's findings differ in many respects from what I presumed before commencing the research. Contrary to my initial thoughts, many children were keen to be involved in the work. I experienced and witnessed many child-unfriendly practices during my childhood in Nepal, and I was uncertain whether children would want to participate in the research. Many of the children are most likely from vulnerable families already struggling with poor socio-economic status and have undergone various difficulties since an early age. Many accounts suggest there are numerous benefits of living in a children's home, and the homes play an essential role in their lives. Those advantages include secure accommodation, access to school, regular meals, a celebration of festivals, and socialisation with adults and other children living in the children's homes. Many of them were also assisted in maintaining contact with their parent(s) in prison. Although many children spoke about living in a children's home in positive terms, a few also spoke about their bitter experiences of transitioning from prison to a children's home. For some, they must leave their parent(s), adapt to a new atmosphere, and adjust to other socio-cultural aspects, such as learning a new language. This is clearly another potential trauma in their lives. Many of the children's stories indicated that the role children's homes play in their lives is crucial to giving them both necessities and helping them build self-confidence and resiliency. The prison visits and contacts seemed pivotal for the imprisoned mothers to continue to care for their children from inside prison. The extended prison visits that some children made seemed to be of further help in continuing and maintaining mother-child connections. The data shows that many of these children are thriving despite various hurdles in the past, and they can build relationships with other children and adults in the children's homes and prisons. Their stories also indicate that they consider themselves as hopefully becoming future social changemakers. I am aware that children's homes in Nepal often face criticism for failing to meet the minimum standard set up by government agencies. Therefore, it is important to note that the findings discussed in this thesis are not generalisations of all the children living in all children's homes across Nepal. In addition to giving voice to the children of prisoners, this thesis also provides space and opportunity to unmute and unfold the researcher's inner selves. Consequently, based on informing findings from data analysis, this thesis also offers critical thoughts and discussion on reflective thoughts on the methodological choices and this PhD journey. This thesis argues that the researcher's experience of this PhD journey is a crucial learning process. Therefore, my learnings across multiple pieces of analysis carried out during this PhD are critically discussed. Accordingly, my personal experiences, feelings, reflections, and emotional expressions about being in the research field and doing this research are highlighted throughout the thesis. It also includes a discussion on some of the challenges I experienced while writing this PhD in English as my second language. Importantly, this thesis also discusses research as a political intervention. It argues that doing research and writing this PhD is not only about learning and contributing knowledge to the field but is also about playing a strong role in a process to intervene in existing practices for improvements. This thesis concludes by recommending key ideas that need further research and activism in the context of Nepal.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Prison; Children; Mother
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
L Education > L Education (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV8301 Penology. Prisons. Corrections
Divisions: Education
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2024 10:09
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2024 10:10
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00023708
Supervisors: Daly, A, Frankham, J and Brookes, L
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23708
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