The Deplorable Condition of Women Prisoners in India

Posted on February 4, 2012 in Society

By Sakshi Chouhan and Rohit Dhyani:

It has been 64 years since India attained independence — The largest democracy in the world. Yet justice for all is a far cry in the country where the judiciary system continues to ignore human rights of numerous women prisoners.

The condition of women in India is like hell in perpetuity, despite the fact that today we have some powerful names among the female community in India and the world; they started their career from grass root and they touched the sky in the every field. A country represented by a woman president and influential women as chief ministers in four major states. For a country where women make it to the top political positions like President of India Smt. Pratibha Patil, Lok Sabha Speaker Smt. Meira Kumar, chief ministers Smt.Sheila Dikshit of Delhi, Kr. Mayawati of Uttar Pradesh, Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, J. Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu and leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Smt. Sushma Swaraj; Sonia Gandhi — the most powerful woman according to Forbes Magazine in 2009, it’s a mockery that there are women stripped of their basic rights.

Across the country 10,687 women are in under trials waiting day after day, month after month and year after year for their cases to be heard and for bail to be granted in the prisons. Number of female prisoners into jail across the country are 15,406. Female prisoners compromise 4.1 per cent of the prison population. Official capacity of prison in India is 3, 07,052. But occupancy level is at 122.8 per cent. 469 women convicts with their 556 children and 1,196 under trials with their 1,314 children are in prisons across the country.

They were unable to appoint a private lawyer for themselves because a prisoner does not have enough money to pay their private lawyers and the lawyer appointed for them by the government for free legal helps has no interest in meeting them. The law is supposedly equal for every citizen, but the implementation is far from such equality.

Rajya Sabha member K. Kanimozhi was sent to Tihar jail on the basic of involvement in high profile 2G spectrum case. She pleaded in the court that she should get bail on the grounds that she is a woman and a mother – she was granted bail on November 28, 2011. In judicial custody for over six months, she was given a separate cell in the women’s section, equipped with a bed, a television and a toilet. But other women under trials are not as fortunate or privileged as Kanimozhi.

According to “Progress of the World’s Women” a report by the Assistant secretary general of United Nation Women, Lakshmi Puri, last year 2011, uneducated women have lack of awareness about the judiciary system and their rights

“My mother is in jail since June 2006 on the crime of murder and the status of my mother’s case is under trail for last three years. Organizing money to fight the case has become very difficult to me. Till now, I have paid 16 thousand rupees to a lawyer and she always asks for more money to continue the case. I don’t think she will leave this place anytime in the future” said Neeru, daughter of a woman prisoner. Neeru lives in Delhi and works in a copper factory in Mayapuri.

With 66 per cent of the inmates being illiterate, they are unaware that free legal aid is available to them on the jail premises itself.

A majority of these inmates are in jail for no crime, under false cases or plainly under suspicion. It is a disgrace on part of the Indian judiciary and political system that jail reforms for women, and the right to fight for themselves and defend themselves has been snatched away from them.

While awareness is definitely one part of the solution, the second part is you and I. The more we talk about these issues and spread the word, the more chatter is built around them.