Separate Quarantine Wards, Med Check-ups for Women & Children in Jail

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They are in prison but they aren’t criminals. A jail cell became their homes because their mothers were convicted of theft and imprisoned in one of Maharashtra’s 24 women-only jails.

When I read news reports about the spike in COVID-19 cases in India’s already-over-congested prisons, I immediately felt worried about hundreds of children of inmates. Indian courts believe that such children under the age of 6 should not be separated from their mothers in their formative years, especially when there are no close family members willing or available to take care of them

Sign my petition to protect mothers and children in jail with urgent measures before jails turn into Coronavirus hotspots.

It’s bad enough that Maharashtra is worst hit by the Coronavirus. To make matters worse, its jails are occupied 2 to 4 times above capacity. Take Arthur Road jail, example. 3700 prisoners are lodged in a space meant for 804 inmates. The same situation prevails in women’s jails. Despite the Maharashtra government’s efforts to decongest all jails to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the number of infected patients has risen to 103 people. This includes prison staff and prisoners. Recently, a doctor visiting prison for check-ups tested positive. 

There are more than 100 children lodged with their mothers across state prisons. 26 of them are in the 0-6 years age group. Prison authorities claim that these children have been moved to a separate ward with their parents since the lockdown began. 

Given how fast Covid-19 is spreading, decongesting of prisons cannot be the only solution, as the freed inmates account for only a portion of the prisoners. What about those women with children who remain inside? As per the Supreme Court guidelines, their well-being must be secured.

Sign my petition asking for separate isolation/quarantine wards to be created for women prisoners and their children across Maharashtra. Health check-ups must also be conducted at regular intervals so that symptomatic patients can be shifted to the quarantine ward. 

These measures will keep women prisoners and their children safe in times of COVID-19.

They are confined within the walls of prison. No one in the government can hear them. Only we can raise our voices for them. So come, join me, by signing this petition so that each mother and child in the jail feel safe.

Image credit: Sameer Sehgal via Getty Images