Why females should be treated differently from male in prison By KOMAL SINGH @LEXCLIQ


Why female should treated differently from Male in prison

Women Constitute a clear minority in the prison estate than men not just in India but all over the world. On a global scale women consist of 6.9% of total prison population. In India it is 4.3%.
While there has been considerable debate whether women and men should be treated differently with prison life. Many academics and policymakers -in the West as well as in India-advocate a difference in treatment. With the Bangkok rules and Nelson Mandela’s rule adopted in 2011 and 2015, respectively -and landmark Supreme Court judgment in 2016- India is actively focusing in differentiated responses.
The criminal justice systems is designed with focus of men- the prison estate in particular. The difference in the way women experience prison can be attributed to their biological and physical realities. Pregnancies within the prison , menstruation and hormonal changes specific to women have a direct bearing on the way women experienced imprisonment. The fact that women are primary caregivers to children also makes imprisonment particularly challenging for some.
Separation from their children and a having sense of let them down can weigh heavily on incarcerated mothers. This separation also leads to disruption in the lives of the children. Motherhood is a major reason why some imprisoned women have a much tougher time than men. Keeping this in mind even the UN Standard Minimum Rules suggests alternatives to jailing the women.
Differential sentencing should be favoured with respect to custodial sentences for women in order to reduce the disproportionate harshness it causes for women. “Shoehorned into a system designed for men”. The consequences prison had for women are far more severe than the consequences for men . Along with the painful separation from their families, imprisonment has devastating repercussions on their accommodation, employment, and relationship with partners.
The danger in a gender-specific discourse should be acknowledged but it shouldn’t make ineffective the justification of differential treatment of male and female offenders. The dangers of gender -specific discourse originate from refusing to acknowledge the treatment of women differently in respect of sentencing. Women should not only by treated differently in respect of prison life but also in respect of sentencing.
A gender -specific approach is a exception but should be made the Rule. Responses designed for women are not only more cost-effective but also have a positive effect on reoffending rates. Therefore in India we should focus more on non -custodial measures, community sentencing and restorative justice programmes.

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