The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), Ministry of Home Affairs is organising the First ever Regional Conference at Shimla on ‘Women in Detention and Access to Justice’ in collaboration with the Prison Department, Himachal Pradesh on October 4-5, 2018. The Conference will be inaugurated by Shri Acharya Devvrat, the Governor of Himachal Pradesh.
The BPR&D organises the conferences on newly emerged issues. The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women on the subject “Women in Detention and Access to Justice” has made several recommendations. There is a need to deliberate upon some of the recommendations to devise strategies and programs for bettering conditions of Women Prisoners and upholding their Fundamental Rights.
Objectives of the conference:
This conference is organised with a view to provide a platform for the prison personnel of all ranks at the national level to share their candid views on various operational as well as administrative issues not only with their counterparts, but also with other experts of national repute in this field.
The conference also seeks to identify best practices and standards in the working of Correctional Administration to meet new challenges in the present day’s context to bring out prison reforms in objective terms.
This event would also promote research and developmental activities on the functioning of the Correctional Administration across the country on the one hand and nudge to develop a scientific approach among the various Correctional Administration in a professional manner.
As of 2015, there are 4,19,623 persons in jail in India, of which, 17,834 (about 4.3%) are women. Of these, 11,916 (66.8%) are under trial prisoners.
There is an increasing trend in the number of women prisoners – from 3.3% of all prisoners in 2000 to 4.3% in 2015.
A majority of female inmates are in the age group of 30-50 years (50.5%), followed by 18-30 years (31.3%).
Of the total 1,401 prisons in India, only 18 are exclusive for women, housing 2,985 female prisoners. Thus, a majority of women inmates are housed in women’s enclosures of general prisons.
Women in prisons face greater hardships than their male counterparts due to many factors such as social stigma, financial dependence on their families or husbands etc. These difficulties are further exacerbated when the woman has children.
Women have to face numerous problems in prisons owing to inadequacy of female staff which often translates to the reality that male staff becomes responsible for female inmates, which is undesirable.
Women are not provided with meals that are nutritious and according to their bodily requirements.
Women are at a most disadvantageous position when it comes to their reintegration in society after release. Many are abandoned or harassed post-release, mainly due to the stigma attached with incarceration, which is even more pronounced in cases of women.
Women also tend to lose ties with their children over the years, due to inadequate child custody procedures. Also, a robust grievance redressal mechanism was required to tackle cases of sexual harassment, violence and abuse against women in jails.
Reforms are needed for improving the lives of women under incarceration including the elderly and the disabled, addressing a wide range of issues pertaining to pregnancy and childbirth in prison, mental health, legal aid, reintegration in society and their caregiving responsibilities among others. In this regard, changes in the National Model Prison Manual 2016 have also been suggested to bring it in line with international standards and norms.