white black legal international law journal ISSN: 2581-8503

Peer-Reviewed Journal | Indexed at Manupatra, HeinOnline, Google Scholar & ROAD



Authored By-Shritu Anand[1]



Women in prisoner is not the ground to curtail  her basic rights which includes her medical rights, care of her child , legal Assistance and many others. A prison is a type of correctional facility used to imprison criminals. But in order to implement this system , the basic right of the woman prisoner is not to be violated. Therefore, it is crucial to acknowledge and uphold inmates' fundamental rights in order to promote their reformation. Numerous protections in the form of laws, regulations, and directives safeguard women from exploitation in prison and provide for their fundamental needs. Women who are incarcerated experience a wide range of issues because of the poor execution of these provisions. “A prisoner must be treated as a human being who is entitled to all fundamental human rights, as well as human dignity and sympathy” ,[2] according to the Hon. Supreme Court, which confirmed the fundamental rights of prisoners. Convicts frequently experience physical and sexual violence at the hands of guards and other inmates while incarcerated. There aren't enough bathrooms, toilets, or other necessities for sanitation and hygiene. A major worry is the inadequate supply of feminine hygiene products and water.Through this paper an attempt has been made to aware the concern authorities  about the basic right of the woman prisoner for which they are entitled and these rights includes right to legal aid, sanitation and hygiene, medical facility, education , bedding problem etc.

KEYWORD-Woman Prisoner, Geneva Convention, Constitution of India, CrPC,Jail Manual.








To keep the person in the imprison is the corrective method so that in the future the person will not to commit any kind of the crime. Jails were designed according to the male prisoner but the woman also started to commit the crime so there is need of special type of jail but insist of that special cell they are kept in the same infrastructure which was designed for the male prisoner.As compare to the male prisoner ,woman are more sensitive and they need a distinct type of the facilities which they deserved to be as woman and which fall in the basic right and it is the duty of the concerned department and the authorities to implement these right and nobody is allow to curtail these rights. Due to their vulnerability and economic disadvantage, women are more likely than men to be held pending trial because they cannot afford bail or legal representation.The mostly  women in the prisoner are charged with the petty offences and they did not commit any serious offence which would be effect the society at large as compare to male prisoner they are not able to avail their legal assistance and result is that they are continue in the prisoner and live their lives in the vulnerable conditions.


International Scenario

Geneva Convention III

According to Article 25, fourth paragraph, and Article 29, second paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention III provide that , “In any camps in which men and women prisoners are accommodated together, separate dormitories and conveniences shall be provided for women”.[3]

Geneva Convention IV

According to Article 76, fourth paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV provides that women accused of an offence , “shall be confined in separate quarters and shall be under the direct supervision of women”. [4]

According to Article 82, third paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV provides:

Wherever possible, interned members of the same family shall be housed in the same premises and given separate accommodation from other internees, together with facilities for leading a proper family life”.[5]


According to Article 85, fourth paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV provides:

Whenever it is necessary, as an exceptional and temporary measure, to accommodate women internees who are not members of a family unit in the same place of internment as men, the provision of separate sleeping quarters and sanitary conveniences for the use of such women internees shall be obligatory”.[6]

According to Article 124, third paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV provides:

Women internees undergoing disciplinary punishment shall be confined in separate quarters from male internees and shall be under the immediate supervision of women”.[7]

Additional Protocol I

Article 75(5) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides:

Women whose liberty has been restricted for reasons related to the armed conflict shall be held in quarters separated from men’s quarters. They shall be under the immediate supervision of women. Nevertheless, in cases where families are detained or interned, they shall, whenever possible, be held in the same place and accommodated as family units”.[8]

Additional Protocol II

Article 5(2)(a) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II provides, with regard to persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict, that whether they are interned or detained, “except when men and women of a family are accommodated together, women shall be held in quarters separated from those of men and shall be under the immediate supervision of women”.[9]

Standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners

Rule 8(a) of the 1955 Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners provides:

Men and women shall so far as possible be kept in separate institutions. In institutions which receive both men and women the whole of the premises allocated to women shall be entirely separate”.[10]

European Prison Rules

Rule 11(2) of the 1987 European Prison Rules provides: “Males and females shall in principle be detained separately, although they may participate together in organised activities as part of an



established treatment programme”.[11]


United Nations Rules For The Treatment Of Women Prisoners And Non-Custodial Measures For Women Offenders (The Bangkok Rules), 2010.

Right to legal Assistance -Rule 2(1)

According to the rule 2(1) , “Women prisoners shall be provided with facilities to contact their relatives; access to legal advice; information about prison rules and regulations, the prison regime and where to seek help when in need in a language that they understand; and, in the case of foreign nationals, access to consular representatives as well”.[12]

Allocation-Rule 4

According to the rule 4 ,“Women prisoners shall be allocated, to the extent possible, to prisons close to their home or place of social rehabilitation, taking account of their caretaking responsibilities, as well as the individual woman’s preference and the availability of appropriate programmes and services”.[13]

Personal hygiene- Rule 5

According to the rule 4 , “The accommodation of women prisoners shall have facilities and materials required to meet women’s specific hygiene needs, including sanitary towels provided free of charge and a regular supply of water to be made available for the personal care of children and women, in particular women involved in cooking and those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating”.[14]

Mental health and care-Rule 12

According to the rule 12 ,“Individualized, gender-sensitive, trauma-informed and comprehensive mental health care and rehabilitation programmes shall be made available for women prisoners



with mental health-care needs in prison or in noncustodial settings”.[15]

Suicide and self-harm prevention-Rule 16

According to the rule 16 , “Developing and implementing strategies, in consultation with mental health-care and social welfare services, to prevent suicide and self-harm among women prisoners and providing appropriate, gender-specific and specialized support to those at risk shall be part of a comprehensive policy of mental health care in women’s prisons”.[16]

Safety and security-Rule 19

According to the rule 19, “Effective measures shall be taken to ensure that women prisoners’ dignity and respect are protected during personal searches, which shall only be carried out by women staff who have been properly trained in appropriate searching methods and in accordance with established procedures”.[17]

Discipline and punishment-Rule 22 & 23

According to the rule 22 , “Punishment by close confinement or disciplinary segregation shall not be applied to pregnant women, women with infants and breastfeeding mothers in prison”.[18]


According to the rule 23 , “Disciplinary sanctions for women prisoners shall not include a prohibition of family contact, especially with children”.[19]


Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution's List II, Schedule VII lists prisons and their management as State Subjects. Prison facilities are divided into numerous levels, including central jails, district jails, sub jails, women's jails, borstal schools, open jails, and special jails. The jail population has dramatically expanded over the past few decades, posing problems with security, health and hygiene, overcrowding, and other factors.



 The Supreme Court of India has construed a number of fundamental rights under the Indian Constitution for the benefit of prisoners, including Articles 14, 19, 21, 22, 32, 37, 39A, and 226.

The Indian Constitution's Article 14 serves as a beacon for the prison administration and authorities in deciding how to segregate inmates and how to use them as reformation targets.

All Indian people are granted six liberties under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. There are some rights that do not apply to convicts, however among those freedoms, inmates still have the right to free speech, freedom of expression, and the ability to join an association.

The right to life and the notion of liberty are the two key ideas that are the subject of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. In cases like Maneka Gandhi, Sunil Batra (I), and M.H. Hoskot, the Supreme Court has held that the provisions of Part III of the Indian Constitution should be given the broadest meaning feasible.

In the case of M.H. Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra,[20] it was held that, “Every person has a legal assistance right”.

In the case of  Rattiram v. State of M.P.,[21]it was held that, “Prisoner has the Right to a quick trial”.


In the case of Jagmohan Singh v. State of U.P.,[22] It was held that, “Right to consult a friend, relative, or attorney before making a decision”.

Upendra Baxi v. State of U.P.,[23] It was held that,  “Inmates of protective homes, etc., have the right”.

Although article 21 of the constitution does not directly list these rights as fundamental rights, they are nonetheless recognised as prisoners' rights thanks to creative judicial interpretation.

Code of Criminal Procedure

Section 46(1) mandate that a woman shall be arrest by the woman police officer only.

Section 46(4)  which states as that no woman shall be arrest after the sunset and before the sunrise.

Section 416-“If a woman sentenced to death is found to be pregnant, the High Court shall order the execution of the sentence to be postponed, and may, if it thinks fit, commute the sentence to imprisonment for life’.




Statistics On Women In Prison

There are just 14 states and the UT that have women-only prisons. Rajasthan has the most female inmates (six), followed by Tamil Nadu (five), Kerala (three), Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, and Delhi (2 each). Each of the following states has one women's prison: West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.[24]


Number of Woman Jails


Population of Inmates

Occupancy Rate





                   Source-National Crime Bureau , Prisoner Statistic Report  2021


Problems Faced By Woman Prisoner


The Honourable Supreme Court stated in May 2017 that there is a severe staffing shortfall in practically every jail in the nation. It instructed all State Governments and UTs to take the prompt measures necessary to fill these vacancies by December 31, 2017.[25] Over 100 institutions that the NHRC visited revealed an appalling paucity of staff, especially in the smaller district prisons.A growing number of things are required, including specialised female jail guards, full-time female doctors, and paediatricians.[26]


 Basic sanitation and hygiene amenities are typically poor in prisons. One restroom and one shower cubicle should be provided for every ten offenders, according to the Prison Manual, but this is rarely the case in practise. Toilets and restrooms are typically in short supply due to the disproportionately large jail population. Women's restrooms ought to be located in secure areas away from male influence and have secure access, however this is not always the case. The


National Prison Manual also calculates that each prisoner needs 135 litres of water each day.

Every state's jail manual stipulates that women convicts must get a minimum amount of clothing and undergarments in accordance with the weather and basic hygienic requirements. According to their needs, they are supposed to be given access to sterilised sanitary napkins, although this is often not the case. According to reports, some institutions charge women for sanitary products or only supply a predetermined monthly allotment regardless of need. Women are forced to use unsanitary materials like cloth, ash, fragments of old mattresses, newspapers, etc. as a result of this.


The right to health includes the provision of affordable, appropriate, and high-quality healthcare. Every jail is required by the National Prison Manual to provide a hospital with separate wards for men and women.

A comprehensive inspection of every prisoner should be conducted by the Chief Medical Officer/Medical Officer (in charge) once a month, in addition to daily visits to the prison. The care of female convicts will be provided by lady medical officers.


The relationship between nutrition and health is strong. Every State's prison manual specifies a scale of diet with minimum calorie and nutritional requirements for inmates. There must be one kitchen for every 100 inmates. For female inmates who are pregnant or nursing and need more protein and minerals than usual, the calorie intake and variety of diet should be increased. According to the Prison Manual, these women are supposed to receive extra milk, sugar, vegetables, fish/meat, curd, fresh fruit, etc.


Inmates who are women must have access to educational resources. Links with NGOs and nearby schools and colleges might be created in the event of a staffing shortage. It may be encouraged for educated prisoners to tutor less educated prisoners. To ensure that learning acquired while incarcerated is acknowledged and sustained after release, prison education must be integrated with general education institutions.


 Body searches must be carried out in accordance with established policies. When searching female detainees, the least invasive technique should be used if it is deemed necessary. The convict should be informed fully about the type of search that will be done and the justification for it. To avoid


complete nudity at one time, strip searches should be performed in two consecutive steps, with the upper body and lower body being searched one after the other. As far as feasible, body cavity searches should be avoided. When using CCTV, care must be taken to respect the privacy and dignity of female detainees.

All personnel who handle, question, or otherwise interact with prisoners must be made aware of gender issues, sexual misbehaviour, and human rights. Workshops for the same might be held in prison by NGOs and State Commissions for Women.

Appointing sufficient female personnel is necessary to address violent events. Violence must be dealt with strictly by the prison administration, taking into mind the possibility of reprisal.





"You can judge the condition of a nation by looking at the situation of women in the country," Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru once said. In order for the lives of the women prisoners to improve and they to receive all the advantages to which they are entitled, it is crucial for all authorities—whether at the federal or state level—to put all the work or suggestions into action rather than merely on paper.

There are many women who experience frequent violence that was inflicted by their fellow inmates or by their officials, thus there should be a proper solution to their concerns and they should also receive justice inside the prison.

The state and the centre will need to implement them in order to ensure that the woman prisoner's life inside the prison runs well. Having all of the recommendations on paper or by the appropriate committees is not the solution.





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