Facilities for Assam women prisoners inadequate

Guwahati, July 8 (PTI) Facilities provided to female prisoners in Assam's jails are unsatisfactory, insufficient and in violation of the international standards set for women prisoners, a study has revealed. Arrangements for proper health care, legal aid, access to justice, arrangement for transfer of female prisoners and detention of girls (juveniles) are inadequate. So too are facilities for older women inmates and other vulnerable groups, the study, conducted by an NGO, North East Network, found. The NGO, which conducted its survey in four jails located in Guwahati, Jorhat, Nagaon and Tezpur, found that a large part of the problem with the state's prison system sprang from the largely defunct and inaccessible nature of the state mechanism to run prisons and safeguard rights of prisoners. Anurita P Hazarika of the NGO pointed out that the study attempted to outline the issues around access to justice for women charged with crimes within the state. ''There appears to be a failure of justice with regard to appropriate and adequate investigation of cases and representation with some women prisoners appearing to have been arrested for no fault of theirs, being circumstances of false charges or being wrongly implicated,'' Hazarika said. It was found in the survey that policies often overlook special needs of women, especially mothers, in prisons who have special physical, vocational, social and psychological needs.