Rhea Chakraborty is currently in the Byculla jail in Mumbai. The officials have given her a single room for security reasons. With no fan and bed life for Rhea is quite difficult inside the jail. Importantly, reports indicate that the facilities inside the jail are not up to the mark. Though Byculla is one of the largest and one of the two jails for women in Maharashtra, it offers poor support to the inmates.
Lack of Proper Sanitization and Safety Measures Can Increase Risk of Corona For Rhea Chakraborty
According to a news source, overcrowding is a big problem in Byculla jail with a capacity of 262 prisoners. At present, the jail houses 259 inmates. These include both undertrials and convicts. Earlier in May this year, a prisoner tested corona positive. Immediately the authorities tested each and every prisoner and employee in the jail. However, that surely does not guarantee a second outbreak. It is because every now and then new prisoners come in. Incidentally, visitors who come to meet their family members and friends in jail can also pass on the virus to the inmates.
After the corona outbreak in May, Sunil Ramanand, the then Inspector General of Prisons released an official affidavit. According to one of the advocates representing the inmates in Byculla jail, Ramanand suggested reducing the jail's capacity to one-third to cut down the COVID-19 threat. Currently, the jail has inmates almost full to its capacity. Reports indicate that prisoners with all types of health issues including heart and thyroid conditions live together in a barrack holding around 35 prisoners at a time. Moreover, there is a big concern over safety and sanitization.
Lack of Proper Facilities for Women in Byculla Jail
According to Vijay Raghavan, a professor at TISS's Center for Criminology and Justice, "Women’s prisons traditionally suffer from lack of facilities because they don’t constitute a significant number of the total prison population. Most prisons are largely managed by male staff. There’s the female staff—you may have one or two lady jailers and few female guards, for example."
Raghavan who also heads an initiative called Prayas that promotes social work in criminal justice further adds, "Most staff are lower down the prison hierarchy. Their ability to highlight the inmates’ issues is limited. This reflects in the treatment of the prisoners. They are treated at best in a patronizing manner, not as women with needs. Some of which are the same as men, like legal aid, and some which may be different from men, like the need for gynecological treatment or issues related to care and support of their children."
Even though the officials have offered a single room to Rhea Chakraborty the threat of COVID-19 cannot be ruled out in such an overcrowded place.