The Ministry of Women & Child Development will support the National Commission for Women to push the agenda of prison reforms to ameliorate the condition of women in jails across the country. This was disclosed by the Minister of Women & Child Development, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi while briefing media persons in New Delhi today in the presence of Acting Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Smt Rekha Sharma. The NCW will formulate a manual with details on the ideal standard operating procedures and practices/entitlements for women prisoners to be adopted by jail authorities in prisons across India, the WCD Minister explained.Giving more details, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi said that the NCW will soon inspect 144 Central Jails which fall within the scope of NCW to gauge the prevailing conditions of women inmates. The procedures and practices for jail authorities will be formulated accordingly, the Minister said. Smt Maneka Gandhi said that the matter will be taken up with the Home Ministry to include the manual for women prisoners in the overall jail manual. The WCD Minister emphasized that the Institutional reforms in prison have become a necessity now since the reports at present depict a dearth in the most basic of human facilities, leading to inhuman living conditions for women inmates. The Ministry will aid NCW in pushing these institutional reforms, across India, the Minister added.Explaining the inspection mechanism, Smt Maneka Gandhi said that the NCW will partner with NGOs who will visit these jails and look at the condition of women including food, quantity & quality of water, facilities for children of inmates, provision of sanitary napkins, skill development and training among others. The possibility of setting up Ombudsman in prisons will also be explored where women inmates can complain in case they are not given proper facilities or treatment.
The NCW Chairperson, Smt Rekha Sharma said that the National Commission for Women has, in compliance of its mandate, been conducting inspections of Jails from time to time with a view to assess the condition of jails where women inmates are lodged.Similar inspections are also carried out by the State Women Commissions.Smt Rekha Sharma disclosed that in a fresh initiative, the NCW representatives will start visiting the 144 Central Jails immediately followed by the jails under the purview of State Commissions. They will prepare report on the condition of women prisoners on the basis of a proforma designed by the NCW. The team will look at various aspects including overcrowding, availability of legal help, rehabilitation plans including skill development and training, legal awareness and legal help for women inmates, proper facilities for the small children of these inmates among others. The report will be prepared State wise for each of the prisons to be tabled in the State legislature within a year. The NCW, with the support of Ministry of Women & Child Development will ensure that these institutional reforms are put in place by the authorities concerned, Smt Rekha Sharma said. The NCW has already undertaken inspection in over 60 jails in the past, she said. The matter of prison reforms for women will be highlighted with State Commissions prominently during the celebration of 25 years of NCW on 31st January, 2018, the NCW Chairperson declared.