There are close to 20,000 women inmates in jails across the country, but only 15 states and Union Territories have separate jails for women.
The latest prison data released by the NCRB for 2019 shows there are 31 jails for women across the country, but only a small fraction of women inmates are lodged in these jails.
Of 19,913 women inmates, only 3,652 are lodged in women’s jails, making up for just 18 per cent of women inmates, according to NCRB data. The states which have women jails have a capacity of 6,511 inmates but an occupancy rate of just 56 per cent, NCRB reports.
Sources said 21 states and UTs with no jails for women lodge them in separate cells in common prisons. As a result, while women jails are underutilised, the separate cells in common prisons are overcrowded in some states.
According to NCRB data, Uttarakhand, which has no separate jail for women, has the highest overcrowding for women in prisons – more than 170 per cent. It is followed by Chhattisgarh (136 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (127 per cent).
However, the overall occupancy of women prisoners in states with no women’s jails is low at 76.7 per cent. The highest number of women inmates are in Jails of UP (4,174) followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,758) and Maharashtra (1,569).
States and UTs which have separate jails for women include Rajasthan (7), Tamil Nadu (5), Kerala (3) and Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Delhi with two each. Karnataka, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha, Punjab, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have one women’s jail each.
Of all women inmates, 65.8 per cent are undertrials, and among these undertrials, the maximum number (6,402) are in the age group of 30-50 years, making up almost 50 per cent of all women undertrials. Among men, maximum undertrials (15.56 lakh) belong to 18-30 age group. For this age group, there are 4,409 women undertrials.
There are also five girls in the age group of 16-18 lodged in jails in Bihar (1) and West Bengal (4), the NCRB data says. The figure for boys of this age group in jails stands at 189, including Bihar (54), Gujarat (46), West Bengal (42) and Assam (41).
In 2015, Parliament passed a law allowing for juveniles between 16 and 18 years to be tried under adult law and to be lodged in adult jails for heinous crimes.
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