ANI Photo | States should lay thrust on “women-only prison and women-only staff”, recommends parliamentary panel on Home Affairs

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has recommended that all state governments should have a motto of “women-only prison and women-only staff” to ensure that the fundamental and basic human rights of women prisoners are not violated.
In a report on ‘Prison – Conditions, Infrastructure and Reforms’, the committee also suggested to the Central government that it should formulate necessary infrastructure development programmes in this direction.
“The Committee is of the view that in spite of laws for the protection of women, it is often observed that women are subjected to discrimination in various stages of life, and if a woman is on the wrong side of the law or being convicted for an offence, her miseries increased manifold. As compared to male prisoners, female prisoners face endless problems,” said the report, which was tabled in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during the Special Session of Parliament which concluded on Thursday.
It said that since the prison administration and staff have wide discretion in their hands, utmost measures should be taken that the fundamental and basic human rights of women prisoners are not violated and they are provided with basic necessities and respect available to a prisoner.
“Women-only prison and women-only staff should be the motto for all the state governments to adopt. The Central Government may formulate necessary infrastructure development programmes in that direction,” it noted.
The committee pointed out that it has been informed by states and union territories that there are separate wards and prisons to house the women prisoners along with their children who are below the age of six years.
However, the committee stressed that it is “not clear whether there are separate wards in all the jails which modelled in a children friendly manner”.
“Women prisoners with children may be housed in separate wards in all the jails which shall be modelled in children and nursing mother friendly fashion,” it said.
The committee recommended that special attention be given to the pregnant women “on the line of the judgement of Supreme Court of India in the case of R.D. Upadhyaya vs. State of Andhra Pradesh wherein it was observed that a jail must have adequate facilities for prenatal and postnatal care for female prisoners as well as their children.”
“Gynaecological examination for female prisons shall be performed in the district government hospital. Proper prenatal and post-natal care shall be provided to the prisoner as per medical advice. Pregnant women in jail should be able to give birth outside the prison. Children should be cared properly relating to food, shelter, vaccination, education, recreational space, physical growth until they reach the age of six.”
The committee also acknowledged the fact that the state and the UT governments are following the medical care facilities appropriate to the health of pregnant women prisoners and taking care of pregnant and lactating women prisoners as per their prescribed guidelines.
The committee recommended that the babies born in the prison to be allowed to stay with mothers “until the age of 12” in order to provide a nurturing environment for the children during their early years while ensuring their well-being and development.
It said that as per guidelines issued from time to time, emphasis should be given towards proper care of children relating to food, shelter, medical care, education, and physical growth.
Sports and entertainment facilities are also to be provided to these children, it said.
The committee recommended that keeping in mind the safety, hygiene, and health of women, adequate arrangements for separate toilets and bathrooms with proper water supply and more specialist women doctors are to be provided in women jails.
It said the Home Ministry should from time to time instruct all the state governments and the UTs that necessary skill development programmes are to be provided to the women prisoners which will help them to find employment after being released.
“It is also recommended that a further study of inmates who have been freed needs to be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes, identify areas of concern and enhance prison rehabilitation policy,” the report said.
The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs is chaired by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Brijlal.
The Committee held six meetings on the subject and interacted with the representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs, domain experts on the subject, and various state governments.
The Committee also collected information from all the states and UTs on issues related to conditions, infrastructure and reforms in the prison system. The Committee had considered the draft report and adopted the same in its meeting held on August 24 this year

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