“Women in Prison: Understanding Female Incarceration”


Women who have committed crimes and are housed in correctional facilities are known as female inmates. The experiences of female and male inmates may differ due to a variety of circumstances, including gender-specific requirements, vulnerabilities, and obstacles encountered within the criminal justice system. To successfully meet the needs of women inmates and maintain their well-being throughout their incarceration, it is imperative to take into account the unique conditions of this population.625,000 women and children were jailed in correctional facilities worldwide as of 2013, and the number of women incarcerated was rising on all continents.The primary table with a column for the historical and present percentage of female inmates is part of the list of nations ranked by incarceration rate. Men make up the great bulk of those behind bars worldwide. Around the world, criminal justice systems have handled incarcerated women differently from the beginning of the process until the end, including during sentencing and the application of punitive measures. This discrepancy is mostly caused by real demographic differences in the seriousness of crimes committed by the prison populations of men and women, as well as the enduring notion in society at large that female offenders are more rehabilitee than their male counterparts. Despite making up a smaller percentage of all prisoners worldwide, the number of women behind bars is increasing at a rate double that of men. The most majority are detained in China, Russia, and the United States. of persons behind bars worldwide, including women. The increasing number of women incarcerated worldwide can be partially attributed to changes in sentence and parole regulations for female offenders. The global trend of gender-blind sentencing in criminal justice systems has led to a marked rise in the imprisonment rate of women. Women’s incarceration rates are further increased by high rates of re-entry and re-offending, which are also caused by the concurrent abolition of parole and harshening of punishments for parole violations in many parts of the world.

Crimes by women

Almost 3 lakh women are detained every year for offenses against the Special and Local Laws (SLL) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Many of these women are detained for offenses including rioting, abuse by husband’s family members, and Prohibition Act violations. Combining statistics for both convicted and pending cases reveals that 37% of women are serving jail sentences for murder, with 15% of them being incarcerated for dowry deaths.

According to the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution, State Governments are in charge of all matters pertaining to prisons, reformatories, borstals, and other similar institutions, as well as the people housed there. They also handle agreements with other States regarding the sharing of prisons and other facilities. The following laws provide the guidelines for imprisonment:

• Indian Penal Code, 1860

• Prison Act, 1894

• Prisoner’s Act, 1900

• Identification of Prisoner’s Act, 1920

• Exchange of Prisoner’s Act, 1948

• Transfer of Prisoner’s Act, 1950

• Prisoner (Attendance in Court) Act, 1955

• Probation of Offenders Act, 1958

• Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

• Repatriation of Prisoner’s Act, 2003

• Model Prison Manual, 2003

• Model Prison Manual, 2016

In 2007, a National Policy on Prison Reforms and Correctional Administration was formulated, outlining several guidelines pertinent to female inmates, such as safeguarding their human rights and preventing the prolongation of pending cases. “Women prisoners shall be protected against all exploitation,” the statement adds. Work and treatment plans must be developed for them taking into account their unique requirements.

National Model Prison Manual, 2016

The 2016 Model Prison Manual has been updated with a focus on computerization in prisons, special provisions for women inmates, after-care services, prison inspections, the rights of death row inmates, repatriation of foreign prisoners, and a greater emphasis on correctional staff.

Special procedure for arrest of women

The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) has specific provisions pertaining to the arrest of women. Specifically, it is forbidden to arrest women after sunset or before sunrise, unless the Judicial Magistrate First Class has granted permission beforehand. Additionally, only female officers must conduct searches on female arrestees, taking into account their dignity. Ideally, the arresting police officer should not be wearing their uniform when making the arrest of the woman in order to lessen the stigma attached to being incarcerated. Additionally, arrangements for the woman’s minor children’s custody at the time of her arrest should be arranged. She needs to put her requests in writing, including the name and contact information of the person she wants her minor children to stay with while she is incarcerated. Be closely adhered to. If the child cannot accompany the mother to prison and no family or friends are available to care for him or her, the youngster should be placed in a child care institution.

Addressing violence

Body searches need to be carried out in accordance with established protocols. The least invasive method should be used when searching female inmates if it is deemed suitable under the circumstances. The type of search that will take place and the rationale behind it should be made evident to the prisoner. To prevent total nudity at a given time, strip searches should be carried out in two separate processes, with the top and lower bodies being searched sequentially. Searches of the body cavities should be avoided wherever possible. CCTV cameras ought to be utilized with consideration for the privacy and dignity of female detainees. For each prisoner, a documented record detailing the nature and frequency of searches should be maintained and be open for inspection by representatives. Human rights, sexual misconduct, and gender issues must be made clear to all employees that handle, hold, or question prisoners.

Living arrangements

Three changes of clothes, two towels, and three sets of their usual undergarments should be provided to female inmates serving sentences of no more than six months in jail. For women serving sentences longer than six months, this amount will rise to five sets of clothes, three towels, and five sets of the usual undergarments. Prisoners ought to have the freedom to select their preferred style of dress from a selection of possibilities. These should, at the at least, consist of light-colored—not necessarily white—sarees with blouses and petticoats, kurtas with salwar and dupattas, and shirts with trouser/long skirts.

For a year following birth, women in the post-natal phase must live apart from other people in order to uphold a specific level of hygiene and shield the unborn child from infections and other illnesses. Furthermore, In addition, it is necessary to keep sick female inmates apart for their own health.

Improvement of health and nutrition

Women must undergo thorough health screenings upon admission, taking into account their rights to confidentiality, privacy, and dignity, as well as their ability to decline screening. This will assist in determining any health concerns, provide appropriate care, and creating a customized food and health plan for the prisoner. Testing needs to be done routinely after that. Comprehensive medical examinations should be performed annually, on a monthly basis, and inmates should always have access to a female medical officer for examinations, tests, treatments, and other needs. Women should have regular papanicolaou testing and screening for gynecological and breast cancers. Should the female medical officer not be available, the inmate will be moved to the closest hospital with a female physician on staff. Rather than being held in prison, women with mental health concerns should be moved to appropriate institutions. Female psychologists and counselors should be available to prisoners at least once a week, or more often if necessary. Particularly, first-time offenders need to receive counseling upon admission in order to reduce recidivism. Women incarcerated should be provided with free, maximum-quantity, sterilized sanitary pads based on their needs. It is necessary to provide information about HIV, STD, and other gender-specific disease prevention strategies. To efficiently handle crises and minor concerns, jail staff members are required to complete mandatory training in gender-specific needs of women, first aid, and basic medicine.

Children of women prisoners

If the woman has a kid, consideration should be given to her caregiving responsibilities when choosing the jail, and the woman should be given the option to choose the prison as much as possible. It is imperative that children incarcerated are not made to feel like criminals. It is the responsibility of the administration to make sure that the facilities are suitable for the children in their care. To make sure that kids incarcerated have access to the necessities of education, daycare, entertainment, and a healthy lifestyle, NGOs, schools, and pediatricians can get involved. Prison administration will make every effort to establish an environment that is as similar to home as feasible for youngsters. As close as feasible to that of an incarcerated child. For example, spacious rooms with enough natural light, minimal security measures, an outdoor play area, the chance to interact with peers outside of prison if it isn’t possible within, etc. Regular inspections of these facilities are required by the Board of Visitors. The greatest amount of time permitted for female inmates to spend with their children while they are incarcerated must be given to these women. In order to track their physical development and state of both physical and mental health, children should be fed a particular diet and see a Lady Medical Officer on a monthly basis. Depending on their needs, they ought to be able to contact a Lady Medical Officer. Whether they are visiting or incarcerated, children should never handled like a prisoner. When searching youngsters, prison staff members must act with dignity, compassion, and respect. Children should never be subjected to body cavity searches.


In order to assist women inmates in making a successful transition back into society after serving their sentences, rehabilitation and reintegration programs must be the primary focus. Offering mental health care, counseling, vocational training, and educational opportunities can help lower the recidivism rates of incarcerated women. Furthermore, fostering a secure and encouraging environment in correctional facilities is essential to inmates’ wellbeing and a smooth transition back into society. Mental health issues among inmates are a global phenomena that affects nearly every country in the world. “Compared to women in the general population, women incarcerated have a five-fold increased risk of mental health disorders”. Psychological illnesses, including poor mental health, depression, stress, aggression, and psychological illness, are common among women incarcerated Among female inmates, psychotic disease, bipolar disorder, personality problems, and substance dependence are also quite prevalent .Women who are incarcerated face more particular health issues than men do, as well as restricted access to prison health services . According to a national survey carried out in the United Kingdom, there were significant challenges in providing care for inmates with mental diseases and comparable degrees of impairment among those with psychiatric morbidity. Inmates frequently enquire. Prisoners require instruction and preparation. Teaching them to read and write is just one aspect of this; another is developing and imparting skills that they will need when they are released from prison . This is consistent with research , which indicates that women incarcerated should get appropriate training to prepare them for whatever challenges they may encounter upon release. The greatest need identified by multiple lists of needs for female convicts is skill training (coping, interpersonal, regulatory influence, and anger management), in addition to drug misuse therapy. This has to do with past drug misuse, worries, and terrible situations that inmates have gone through. Recidivism rates were successfully decreased, and prisoner employment chances increased as a result of the training program .









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Judgement Analysis Written by – K.Immey Grace



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