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'Ombudsman Needed For Women Prisoner to Complain About Brutality', WCD & NCW Begin Reform for Women Prisoners

Taking strong note of such "brutality on women", Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, today said that "there is a need for an ombudsman where women can complain of such brutalities."

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:January 5, 2018, 3:01 PM IST
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'Ombudsman Needed For Women Prisoner to Complain About Brutality', WCD & NCW Begin Reform for Women Prisoners
File photo of Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi. (Image: Reuters)
New Delhi: Postmortem report of Manjula, a woman inmate at the Byculla Women's jail in Maharashtra, had indicated that she had died due to multiple injuries in June last year. Her inmates alleged torture by jail-staff leading to the suspension of six staff members.

Taking strong note of such "brutality on women", Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, today said that "there is a need for an ombudsman where women can complain of such brutalities."

The Minister of Women and Child Development along with the National Commission for Women, in order to reform the "status and condition" of women in jails, have drafted pro forma which has been sent to all central prisons and Director General of Prisons. They will help the commission begin its work of reform by this year-end.

"Most of the women in prisons have children who are below six and they are uneducated due to lack of facilities. Secondly, these women get only five sanitary napkins per head whereas women need that much per day of their menstrual cycle. Hence, we will be doing an intensive survey for reform of women in prisons," said Gandhi.

The Ministry has also tasked the Delhi School of Law to suggest reforms in the present manual for prisoners and change it in accordance with the needs of women prisoners. The deadline for all the central prisons to respond to the pro forma is February 15 after which the visits to the jails will begin.

Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, said that when the country is thinking about gas in every household, "women in Indian jails are using firewood."

"Jails are severely overcrowded. A jail with a capacity of 100 women houses 250 women. No sanitary napkins are provided and women can hardly argue their case given the lack of legal aid or representation. Jails have easier access to tobacco than medicines for women. No skill development facilities are available. Even children staying with their mothers till six years old cannot study due to lack of infrastructure," said Sharma who had visited over 60 jails in the last two years.

Gandhi told News18 that the government's initiative to make pro-bono service for lawyers mandatory for promotion could be used in this regard.

The minister said that the report by the NCW would be tabled in front of the legislature too.

"National policy on under-trials states that a woman under-trial should be released once 1/3rd of the prison term has expired. But that has remained only on paper and has never seen the light of the day. There is a need to separate convict from under-trials. This is a reform that we are also looking at," said Gandhi.

Around 144 NGOs will be roped-in by the NCW for carrying the task of visiting jails and making the report.

NCW Chairperson told News18 that the commission is also planning to draft a pro forma on similar lines for reform of women dumped in mental asylums. "We are in the process of drafting this and it will be released soon," said Sharma.

WCD Minister also pointed out the pathetic condition for women in asylums.

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| Edited by: Tarun Bhardwaj
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