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Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Women prisoners facing mental health challenges

Ramkrishan Upadhyay

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8

A first-of-its-type survey carried out at the Burail Jail by the District Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, stresses the need for improvement of health facilities for the women prisoners.

The survey was conducted to understand the problems, needs and facilities available for the women prisoners. The report says doctors of almost all specialties visit the jail and the physical health of the prisoners appears to be adequately taken care of. However, mental health services seem to be slightly lesser prioritised. Many women inmates are prone to mental health issues and may not even be aware of them.

The report says that as per the prison manual, there are supposed to be two medical officers for 1,000 inmates. However, there is only one medical officer in the Model Jail. Women inmates have expressed that they need to speak to someone but they are unable to do so. Regular mental health assessment and counselling is required. An inmate reported that she was under stress due to social taboo and staying away from her family.

The purpose of this survey was to make women prisoners aware about their rights with focus on securing their physical and mental health. During the survey, a total of 46 prisoners were interviewed. Of them, 10 are convicts and 36 are undertrial prisoners. Education, health, family, children and legal issues were discussed with them in the women ward of the prison complex.

The survey team made many recommendations to improve the facilities. They have recommended that the women prisoners should be allowed to meet their parents, family members and relatives as this will help in their rehabilitation.

The inmates raised various demands. An inmate said she was writing a book and she would like to get it published. Another requested for more books on the subject of yoga and meditation, and motivational material in the jail library. The women prisoners also said that they were not regularly updated about the status of their cases.

One-stop solution centre

Nyay Seva Kendra, a one-stop solution centre for women prisoners, is going to be started at the Burail Jail from Wednesday. The multi-service centre will not only benefit the female prisoners and their children within the prison, but will also help dependent children residing in the community outside jail. Justice Jaswant Singh, Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court and Executive Chairman of State Legal Services Authority, will inaugurate the centre to be run by various departments.

from The Tribune

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