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Mental Health of Women Prisoners

Without development of women a nation cannot exist--this is a slogan of every present political party. But there are still some sectors where women are neglected. Prisons are one such place where women are most vulnerable. Imprisoned women are often segregated from the society as a whole .Government still has no any firm scheme for the betterment of female inmates of state prisons. The problems of women prisoners across the state’s jails are least discussed though there has been much talk about human rights violations on women and gender equality. To enquire the conditions of female inmates in Lakhimpur district jail, this correspondent found mental health as a major problem among them. This was stated by the Jailer of Lakhimpur district jail, Sarbeswar Baishya. According to this jailer the mental health of the women inmates of the jail is a major area of concern as these women are separated from their children, family and the society. This separation and deprivation makes most of the women prisoners in his jail very sensitive to situations and this is resulted in their urgent feelings to go to their homes on festive occasions. According to him the Lakhimpur district jail has capacity of fifteen women prisoners where presently 13 inmates are having their prison terms. Seven of the inmates are having life terms. Notably two women prisoners put for life terms are mentally ill. Jailer Baishya says that these two women prisoners are routinely checked by psychiatrics at L.G.B. Regional Institute of Mental Health in Tezpur once in a month. However the jail medical care does not have special provisions for the mental health of its inmates—both males and females. On the other hand there are 3 young children along with their mothers inside Lakhimpur district jail who are serving various sentences. The jail authority has taken up adequate measures for the education and other cares for these children of the female inmates. The 13 women prisoners of Lakhimpur district jail are all from poor and illiterate family backgrounds and most of them are not pure criminals, says the jailor. They are just the victims of situations, the jailor says, for which their mental conditions become fragile and vulnerable inside the prison. Therefore it should be a priority for the government to ensure mental health care for the most vulnerable section of the prisoners—the women. Like any other jails, the Lakhimpur district jail also has reformative measures and self-employment schemes like weaving, tailoring, gardening, handicraft, teaching to the children of inmates etc. and recreational facilities like television and games like carom and lodo, much has to be introduced and initiated for the overall welfare of female inmates of this jail.

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