Gender world, women are a small minority of

equality has been guaranteed to women under the Constitution of India as well
as under various other laws. But despite these provisions, the condition of
women prisoners languishing in jails across the country is quite pathetic. The problem
of under trial women prisoners is even more serious. The concept of human
rights is totally unknown to such women detainees. Non-availability of separate
prisons for women leads to serious incidences of exploitation of women prisoners
which need immediate attention of the authorities.

            The needs of women prisoners are different from their
male counterparts. Women prisoners are in need of gender specific facilities
for health care, gynecological and obstetric care, counseling to guard against
the possibility of rape and sexual assault, to maintain contact with their
dependents outside the prisons and to seek advice for mental and emotional

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            Prison systems are primarily designed and run by men for
the incarceration of men. All over the world, women are a small minority of
those incarcerated as a result they find themselves held in facilities and
under conditions that are poorly adapted for them.

            Women who enter prison usually come from underprivileged
backgrounds and are often characterized by histories of violence, physical and
sexual abuses. Majority of the women prisoners are from rural backgrounds, illiterate,
shy and do not have courage to communicate their needs and grievances to the
prison staff in jails. They also cannot ventilate their sufferings and transmit
the same to higher authorities.

            The small numbers of imprisoned women mean that there are
fewer prisons for them, resulting in women often being imprisoned further away
from their homes. This causes difficulties for the woman in maintaining her
family ties and is especially a problem if she has dependent children. Many imprisoned
women are mothers and are usually primary or sole caretakers for their
children. Imprisonment of such women results in many children ending up in
state care/ alternate care institutions. The imprisonment of mother with
dependent young children is a serious problem. Young children of women
prisoners are deprived of basic minimum facilities of education, health,
nutrition, care, recreation and accommodation. It is important to look into the
findings of the Justice Iyer committee which looked into the living conditions
of children of women prisoners. The Committee observed that children of women
prisoners were callously placed in prisons in general except in a few Central
jails for women. Female wards in prisons are mostly overcrowded. Adequate clothing
and toilet facilities are not made available. The general health care of the
women prisoners in prisons is not upto the mark. The facilities for education,
vocational training and recreational facilities are also very limited. Imprisonment
far away from home also adds to difficulties in their resettlement after
release. The small number of women prisons also results in the collective accommodation
of women convicted of wide range of offences in a prison with high level of
security, needed for a very few women.

            In most countries, women constitute a minority of the
prison population, usually between 2% to 10%.

            Prison systems and prison regimes are almost invariably
designed for the majority male prison population from architecture of prisons
to security procedures, to facilities for health care, family contact, work and
training. As a result, the prisons do not meet the needs of women prisoners and
women in prisons are affected by the imprisonment in a particularly harsh way
resulting in violation of their basic dignity and human rights.     

            Female prisoners are vulnerable to violence. Women prisoners
must be attended and supervised only by women officers but these norms do not
preclude male members of the staff, particularly doctors and teachers, from
carrying out their professional duties in prison places occupied by women


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