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Women prisoners getting pregnant in Bengal’s jails

– Shabana Javed

Kolkata, Feb. 11: A hearing was going on in the Calcutta High Court regarding the jail reforms case. During the hearing, Advocate Tapash Bhanja, amicus curiae in a case on conditions of prisons, on Thursday, informed the Court that women inmates in various prisons of West Bengal are getting pregnant while in custody. He said this is not just a case of a single prison but there is a similar situation in almost all the jails of Bengal where there are a large number of female prisoners who are pregnant.

Placing two notes before a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Supratim Bhattacharya, Bhanja said he recently visited the correctional homes along with court friends. There they found female prisoners pregnant and 15 children with their mothers. The judges called the incident ‘very serious’. It has also been directed to check the number of pregnant women and babies born in the prison.

At present 196 babies are staying in different jails of West Bengal. It has been demanded that there should be a system of checking whether a woman is pregnant under the supervision of the concerned judicial magistrate before sending her to the penitentiary. Bhanja suggested a prohibition on the entry of male karamcharies of prisons into the enclosures of women prisoners.

There are a large number of female prisoners in the jails of West Bengal, but the question arises as to why female prisoners are not safe. How they are being treated in jails and whether the government is unaware of all.

The Supreme Court on Friday sought an enquiry into the reports that women prisoners are getting pregnant inside the jails across West Bengal. A bench of Justices Sanjay Kumar and Ahsanuddin Amanullah expressed concerns over the reported situation, deciding to intervene in the matter.

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