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Should Prisoners Be Allowed To Have sex?

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By Jinendra Parakh:

If a person commits any crime, it does not mean that by committing a crime he/she ceases to be a human being and should be deprived of those aspects of life which constitute human dignity. human beings are social animals and need a family and society to live their life. Every human being is in need of a life partner with whom they can share their feelings, emotions and the physical contact between the two individual cannot be denied. One cannot be happy merely by eating, drinking, putting on clothes and having a house in which to stay. A desire is not merely the desire for food and clothing, though it is primary in some way. There are other insistent desires called Kama, or vital wishes to be fulfilled, which are other pressures exerted by the biological personality, which, too, cannot be ignored, as they are part of oneself.

prison

 

Those who have lived a totally isolated life, unconnected with human society for a long period, will know the working of this kind of feeling in oneself. Being human, prisoners also have the same feelings as each and every individual in the society have. Basically, there are four theories of punishment- constituting preventive, deterrent, reformative and retributive theory. The concept of reformative theory is best as it says all prisons should be transformed into residences where physical, moral and intellectual training should be given in order to improve the character of criminals. The sexual frustration that dominates almost every interaction in a prison is responsible for a great many of the ills that plague prison life and drive prison culture. Now the question arises, should prisoners be provided in India with conjugal rights? A right that would enable the prisoner to have sexual relationship with their spouse. Let us first critically analyze the Pros and Cons of providing such right

Pros

– The provision of conjugal rights will help the prisoners to be free from isolation and frustration. Moreover, it will help the individual to have a child as successor so that when in future they will be free from prison, they can also lead a good life.

– There are innumerable cases of HIV/AIDS in jails because of sexual intercourse in-between the same gender, so, the death of prisoners due to HIV/AIDS can be reduced. A nationwide health survey in jails has found 80 of Chhattisgarh’s prisoners HIV-positive, out of 13,000-odd tested. The situation is even worse in tihar jail in which out of the 1,709 prisoners tested, 140 tested positive.

– Because many of us (if not most) prefer to punish the criminal rather than rehabilitate him/her, we are opposed to some of these measures, thinking that the prisoner should not be entitled to these privileges, having violated us, without realizing that a reformed prisoner would make a better citizen upon their release.

– It is believed that conjugal visits lead to strong family bonds and keeps families functional.

Every issue raised constitutes pros and cons and same is applicable to providing conjugal rights, so, the various cons of conjugal rights cannot be denied.

Cons

– For an inmate that does not have the right to such visits, they may have a negative attitude toward the prison and those that are allowed the visits.

– Prisoners are not monitored during the visit which is a security problem which allows both inmates and guards to engage in criminal activities.

– . One of the biggest disadvantages is that many women become pregnant during the visit. “Welfare babies” are than born which puts another economic strain on the government to not only pay for their inmate’s baby but also pay to house the inmate.

– Since the court had legalized Live-in relationships, what will be the status of the prisoners who are not married but are in a live in relationship. The question arises that will they be allowed to cohabit with their partner?

Raising problems is good if we come up with an adequate solution. After critically analyzing the problem we come to certain reasonable, logical and rational solution to these problems which ultimately benefit us and our society.
Advocate Anand Grover, appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case, said, “Whether we like it or not, there is sex in jails. It is an issue which everyone wants to sweep under the carpet“. Justice Majumdar observed, “There may be physical needs. See whether a separate place can be given to a prisoner and his wife for a day or two. The government is spending crores of rupees to curb the AIDS menace in jails. Instead, why don’t you take preventive steps“. Comments from the eminent personalities clearly states that the issue of allowing sex in prison should be taken in consideration immediately. However, there is always a place for positive feedback and the concept applies here too.

Suggestions

– Only prisoners with good conduct should be allowed to have conjugal rights.

The concept of open jail should be promoted as it would be the best solution where the prisoners are provided vocational training and education . The open jail at Buxar in Bihar ,where at present 74 inmates are staying with their families,  has been provided with fully furnished one-room set each with a separate kitchen and toilet. There has been no case of any inmate breaking free from the jail in the past five months of its functioning. The idea is to reintegrate the prisoners into the society will be fulfilled through the concept of open jail.

It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
― Nelson Mandela

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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