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Women in Prison The Hon Justice Gita Mittal Title1 Title 2.

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Presentation on theme: "Women in Prison The Hon Justice Gita Mittal Title1 Title 2."— Presentation transcript:

1 Women in Prison The Hon Justice Gita Mittal Title1 Title 2

2 Women in Prison The marginalisation and discrimination experienced by women in society does not stop at the prison entrance. Rather it continues to impinge on their lives even when in state custody, perhaps in its most aggravated forms. Central Jail, Tihar, New Delhi, India

3 Special Concerns Women Face in Prison Women have special health and medical needs. In prison manuals make provisions for the ‘man’ and not the ‘woman’. For instance, insufficient provisions are made for lactating mothers and infants. Adolescent girls and women are also sent to institutional custody to exercise control over her sexuality and decision making.

4 Health issues Physical health Mental health Reproductive health concerns Lack of sanitary facilities during the menstrual cycle Lack of medical care are during pregnancy and child birth Treatment for substance abuse HIV+ status and treatment

5 Mental ill-health concerns Experience shows that family members give wrong addresses of a of prisoner who is mentally ill No one visits the prison for ‘mulakat’ ; legal aid may be lacking or insufficient When released, no one receives them

6 Case Study of M M was arrested on 23 September 2005 for killing her husband and step-daughter Nowhere during the trial was a plea of mental illness taken up She was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the jail and in appeal is her mental illness has been taken as a ground On 12 May 2011, she was granted suspension of sentence during the pendency of the appeal by on the condition that her treatment for schizophrenia be continued No one visits her in the prison, her brother is not willing to take her responsibility and have not provided the surety for her bail Till date, she has spent, 6 years 7 months and 10 days in jail

7 Prisoners with mental health issues- facilitating their re-entry into community Prompt diagnosis, treatment and stabilizing the illness Integrating treatment and case management Obtaining therapeutic living arrangements Providing structure to daily routine; managing behaviour distortions and enhancing their independent functioning Maintaining internal and external controls to minimize the possibility of violence and recidivism Establishing a liaison between treatment staff and the justice system Ensuring a daily routine in the offender's life Using authority appropriately Working with the family so that it is a reliable source of social support and willing to take

8 Sexual Harassment and assault : custodial torture and ill treatment – Daw Suu Suu Mon, a member of the Student Union of Burma, writes about her experience in the interrogation center of Military Intelligence Unit (7) in 1991: “During my interrogations I was forced to continuously squat and stand with my arms raised in the air. I had to do this even when I gave them information because they were never satisfied with my answers. The pain of squatting and standing was intense, and whenever I had to stop because of the pain someone would hit me with a cane stick across my hips and on my nipples. This torture went on for the whole night. Whenever I tried to re-fasten my sarong my interrogators would hit me across my arms. ‘If you don’t tell us the truth,’ they mocked, ‘we will remove your sarong.” (page 5) Woman Political Prisoners in Burma, Joint report, Burmese Women’s Union & Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Burma

9 Political prisoners face additional problems: Aung San Suu Kyi symbolises the hope, determination and participation of a woman in people’s struggle for liberty, dignity and justice “Fearlessness may be a gift but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions, courage that could be described as “grace under pressure”- grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure”

10 Case Study: Amit Kumar v. State of NCT of Delhi MANU/DE/1026/2010 Criminal Appeal 442/2008 decided on 8 April 2010 Amit, a short tempered person was convicted for the offence of having committed murder in a fit of rage of a person who intervened when he was quarelling with his wife In his appeal, he moved an application for suspension of the sentence. This is what was observed by the Division Bench:- 15. The plight evidenced by Hemwati, the wife of the appellant, shows that the persons who are actually penalized is not the appellant, but his wife and three children. 16. In the confines of Tihar jail, the appellant is fed a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner. He gets tea and biscuits twice a day. His basics are well-looked after by the jail authorities.

11 17. But what is the plight of the wife and children of the appellant? 18. We briefly note the same. 19. As per the letter of Hemwati addressed to the appellant in jail*, after invoking the blessings of God she has informed the appellant that life has become unbearable for her and she is just not able to bear the pain of suffering of her children. As per her, after the unfortunate incident, her in-laws compelled her to leave her matrimonial house along with her three children. She shifted to the house of her mother where her brother and her sister-in- law got tired of feeding four mouths and after sometime told her to fend for herself and her children. Hemwati writes, that to help her brother she took up a job of cleaning utensils and moping the floor in a house, but the money was insufficient. Her brother compelled her to leave his house and one night she was thrown on the street along with her children. Hemwati writes that she is unable to bear the pains of hunger of her children and their suffering each day. She has desired that the appellant should return to care for the family before it is too late. She has wondered as to for what sin she and her children are suffering. *’jail’ is another term for ‘person

12 She has informed the appellant that her life is ebbing and her courage to fight hardship has evaporated and she has lost the battle..... she concludes the letter by stating that she has had enough of misery in life and unless her husband takes up responsibility of managing the affairs of the family she may be compelled to take the extreme step. 20. We have noted the plight of the wife and the children of the appellant not only to bring home the point as to how sentencing policies sometimes let go the real culprit and the axe falls on the innocent. Indeed, it is not the appellant who is suffering a sentence. His wife and children, who are innocent, are the real sufferers. 21. Be that as it may, we conclude our decision by disposing of the appeal holding that the appeal is partially allowed. The conviction of the appellant for the offence of murder is modified. The appellant is convicted for the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 Part II IPC, for which offence we sentence the appellant to undergo imprisonment for period already undergone.”

13 In prison for... CategoryDescriptionObservations I Organised Crime -Drugs, Psychotropic substances -Human Trafficking -Kidnapping of children for purposes of pick- pocketing -Begging -Women who are in organised crimes w.r.t drugs and human trafficking are ‘least’ exploited -if considered as the bread earner, they are not abandoned by their family in or out of prison II Dowry related offences On account of: -dowry or property demand -harassment -dowry death -may include mother-in-law and/or sister-in-law (husband’s sister / wife of husband’s brother) -suffer maximum ostracisation, discrimination, social ridicule and humiliation -their relatives vulnerable to taunts III Crimes of passion -Murder by a victim by wife/ by husband/ his paramour or her own paramour/ his wife account of grave and sustained provocation -Murder of wife/ husband or a paramour on account of an illicit relationship -worst sufferers -stigmatized -abandoned by families -prejudice in justice system -legal assistance insufficient -upon release, bleak prospects of rehabilitation & familial acceptance -vulnerable - recidivism IV Others -Human sacrifice -Sati -Honour Killings -Civil/ political prisoners -Other offences -women perpetrating crimes against women -stigmatized -societal abhorrence -societal and institutional abandonment

14 The Central Jail, also known as the Tihar Jail in Delhi It is the largest prison in South Asia built on land ad measuring 400 acres (16,18,742.568 m²) With sanctioned strength of 6250 prisoners, its occupancy is 11925 Having ten jails in all, two are for convicts, six for undertrials; One each for women and adolescents Source: oner+Profile

15 The Women's jail as on 29 February 2012... Against capacity of 400, the Jail No. 6 (for women) lodges to 512 inmates and 43 children Undergoing Life sentence- 45 inmates Age distribution 30-50 years- 259 ( 50.59%) Married- 81.19% Transgenders- 1 Undertrial Prisoner HIV+: 5, physically disabled- 2 and mentally disabled- 1 Foreign nationals- 4.69% Illiterate- 55.05%, Technically qualified- 0.2% Before arrest, 46. 93% of the women fell into the annual income bracket of INR 10,001 to INR 30,000 (US$ 222 to US$ 666)

16 Trends in Tihar jail (2010) Marital Status Educational Standards Percentage MaleFemale Married52.5381.19 Unmarried47.4718.81 Percentage Male %Female% Illiterate31.7155.05 Below class X33.7818.42 Class X & above but below graduation 26.1616.04 Graduation5.858.51 Post-graduation1.191.78 Holding Technical Degree/Diploma etc 1.310.2

17 Post Release...barriers to re-entering the community Ostracization/stigma Rejection by family as a result of shame experienced by the family Lack of rehabilitation and re-integration Denial of safe and affordable housing Limited access to social resources Sustainable employment lacking Transitional Income Illiteracy, lack of training Financial bankruptcy Recidivism

18 Women inmates undergo intensive emotional stress due to separation from their families. Laudable and commendable work regarding women prisoners has been initiated by the Indian judiciary. In response to a public interest litigation, the Supreme Court has formulated guidelines regarding pregnancy, antenatal, child-birth and post-natal care and child care (R.D. Upadhyay Vs State of A.P.- AIR 2006 SC 1946) 18

19 The Supreme Court has clearly stated the following: Regarding Pregnancy Before sending a woman who is pregnant to a jail, the concerned authorities must ensure that the jail in question has the basic minimum facilities for child delivery as well as for providing prenatal and post-natal care for both the mother and the child. When a woman prisoner is found or suspected to be pregnant at the time of her admission or at any time thereafter, the lady Medical Officer shall report the fact to the Superintendent. As soon as possible, arrangement shall be made to get such prisoner medically examined at the female wing of the District Government Hospital for ascertaining the state of her health, pregnancy, duration of pregnancy, probable date of delivery and so on. After ascertaining the necessary particulars, a report shall be sent to the Inspector General of Prisons, stating the date of admission, term of sentence, date of release, duration of pregnancy, possible date of delivery and so on. Regarding Child birth in prison As far as possible and provided she has a suitable option, arrangements for temporary release/parole (or suspended sentence in case of minor and casual offender) should be made to enable an expectant prisoner to have her delivery outside the prison. Only exceptional cases constituting high security risk or cases of equivalent grave descriptions can be denied this facility. Births in prison, when they occur, shall be registered in the local birth registration office. But the fact that the child has been born in the prison shall not be recorded in the certificate of birth that is issued. Only the address of the locality shall be mentioned. As far as circumstances permit, all facilities for the naming rites of children born in prison shall be extended.

20 Regarding child care Female prisoners shall be allowed to keep their children with them in jail till they attain the age of six years After six years, the child shall be handed over to a suitable surrogate as per the wishes of the female prisoner. Expenses of food, clothing, medical care and shelter shall be borne by the respective state. There shall be a crèche and a nursery attached to the prison for women where the children of women prisoners will be looked after. Children below three years of age shall be allowed in the crèche and those between three and six years shall be looked after in the nursery. The prison authorities shall preferably run the said crèche and nursery outside the prison premises. A dietary scale prepared by the National Institute of Nutrition, Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad, for a balanced diet for infants and children up to the age of six. Jail manual and/or other relevant rules, regulations, instructions etc. shall be suitably amended within three months so as to comply with the above directions. The Apex court clearly highlighted the need to uphold the fundamental rights. It articulated the provisions under Article 15(3)-special provisions for women and children, Article 21-Right to life and liberty, and Article 21A-free and compulsory education to all children from the ages of six to 14 years. Regarding Gynaecological examination Gynaecological examination of female prisoners shall be performed in the District Government Hospital. Proper pre-natal and post-natal care shall be provided to the prisoner as per medical advice

21 Lesson yet to be learnt : ‘One size does not fit all’

22 “Be free. Nobody can imprison your mind. They can imprison your body, but they cannot imprison your mind. We must always remember this. Free your mind” says Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma

23 Thank you

24 Church House Conference Centre London

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