New Delhi: Women inmates are more densely packed in prisons of Chhattisgarh than anywhere else in the country, data compiled by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for the year 2017 has shown. Chhattisgarh’s prisons show a staggering 166.4 per cent occupancy rate for women, which means that in a space meant for 100 women, 166.4 women are being confined.
In its own report, the NCRB has noted that overcrowding in prisons is “one of the biggest problems faced by prison inmates.” It further notes that overcrowding in prisons “results in poor hygiene, lack of sleep etc. Keeping in view the human rights of the prisoners, it is essential that they are given reasonable space and facilities in jails.”
Chhattisgarh has consistently fared in such lists owing to nearly 15 years of civil strife due to Naxal insurgency, violence and retaliatory violence of government-backed militia 'Salwa Judum'. Many women who have spent time in Chhattisgarh's notorious prisons, allegedly on fictitious claims of the police, like the human rights activist Soni Sori, have written extensively on horrifying and repeated human rights abuses in its jails.
Chhattisgarh is followed by Uttarakhand which has an occupancy rate of 155.3 per cent for its female prison inmates. Uttar Pradesh which has female prison inmate occupancy rate of 114.8 is third on the list.
NCRB has in its data distinguished women prison inmates kept in women-only jails and those kept in regular jails. In terms of women-only jails, the most overcrowded jails were in West Bengal with an occupancy rate of 142.04 per cent, followed by Maharashtra with occupancy rate of 119.85 per cent. Third on the list was Bihar with a female inmate occupancy rate in its jails at 115.13 per cent.
A total of 3,019 inmates were lodged in women jails of the country against the total capacity of 5,400 female inmates, as on 31st December, 2017. The highest number of inmates were lodged in jails Delhi (568) followed by Tamil Nadu (492) and West Bengal (321). These were the three states with occupancy rates in its women jails more than 100 percent.
Another astounding data that has emerged from NCRB’s report is that of the total number of female inmates in the country in 2017, which stood at 18,873, only 16 percent (3,019) female inmates were lodged in women jails. Around 84 percent of total female inmates (15,854) were lodged in other type of jails. The national occupancy rate of women jails at stood at 55.91 percent.
Jharkhand (99.64%), Bihar (96.29%) and Maharashtra (94.49%) had highest rate of female inmates in other jails, except women jails.
Reflecting the lack of sensitivity of various state towards its women prison inmates, the NCRB report showed 23 UTs and states have no women’s jails at all.
The report also showed that while the capacity of women jails has increased by 12.1 per cent between 2012 and 2017, the actual number of women inmates has decreased by 5.6 percent in the same period.