Women more prone to anxieties in jails: panel

Women more prone to anxieties in jails: panel
Women prisoners undergo emotional and psychological trauma more than their male counterparts but Indian jails still do not have enough psychologists or psychiatrists to help them, a "perturbed" parliamentary panel has found.

This has prompted the Parliamentary Committee on the Empowerment of Women, led by  BJP MP Bijoya Chakravarty, to recommend hiring of counsellors and other such staff to ensure "focussed intervention" to allay anxieties of women prisoners.

According to Prison Statistics India 2015, the latest figures available so far, there are 347 women prisoners who are diagnosed with psychiatric ailments. There are 17,834 women prisoners across India.

There are just 18 psychiatrists or psychologists employed in jails across India while there are 224 probation/welfare officers and 355 social workers.

There are 1,886 medical staffers dealing with other health issues.

The report 'Women in Detention and Access to Justice', tabled in Parliament on Friday, said the Ministry of Home Affairs has admitted to a shortage of women officials in the management of prisons.

It said less number of women personnel in jails have an adverse impact on management of women prisoners, the MHA admitted.

"Women have to undergo emotional and psychological trauma which is more pronounced than that encountered by the male prisoners and there is an urgent need to cater to this concern," it said.

The panel said women prisoners are more prone to suffering from anxiety due to incarceration, which "gets escalated when there is little or no social contact with their family members who give up due to social stigma".

A focussed intervention by counsellors and psychiatrists is required, it said, adding, "despite the awareness of such interventions, the committee  is perturbed to find that most of the jails in the country do not have psychologists/psychiatrist in them".

Suggesting speedy filling up of vacancies in prisons, the panel highlighted the need for a focussed intervention by counsellors, psychiatrists and welfare officers to allay mental anxieties of women prisoners.

This will also ensure a more gender-sensitive prison management, the panel said.

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