New Delhi: In a completely unexpected reaction, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam on Saturday refused to make a comment on reports that women inmates of a Karnataka prison were being pushed into "forced sex", as it was a weekend.
“My office doesn’t work on Saturday and Sunday even if I do. I will get more details on Monday,” said the NCW chairperson when asked to make a comment on the incident.
Slamming “irresponsible attitude” of Kumaramangalam, All India Democratic Women's Association's activist Saba Farooqui said the NCW has been constituted to address women issues.
Prominent lawyer and activist Pramila Nesargi also reacted against Kumaramangalam, saying: “It is callous. You must have an eye open 24X7 else you are unfit to be the NCW chief.”
Describing Kumaramangalam's remark as “extremely unfortunate”, women rights activist, Kavita Srivastava, said women in custodial or remand homes are the most vulnerable. “If the NCW is not proactive, who will take accountability of what is happening inside prisons.
The Karnataka government on Friday directed the Department of Child and Women's Welfare officials to probe reports that women inmates of the central prison in Bengaluru were being pushed into "forced sex" with male convicts within its complex.
The officials had been asked to submit the report in the next 15 days after which the government would take action if the prison officials are found guilty, Home Minister K J George told reporters here.
The government action came in the wake of a media report that some jail wardens at the Parapana Agrahara Central Prison here allegedly force women convicts to have sex after charging Rs 300 or Rs 500 from the male inmates.
According to the report, the matter came to light after a judge received two letters written by a group of women jail inmates which he forwarded to the Karnataka High Court Chief Justice DH Waghela for action.
The letters sought Chief Justice's intervention to end the exploitation of women inmates who had also reportedly named wardens and official involved and claimed that the wardens threaten to spoil their chances of parole by complaining to their superiors about their "misconduct".
Deputy Inspector General of Prisons VS Raju said there are no chances for women inmates to come in contact with male prisoners as they are guarded by women staff round the clock. Also, there are rules in place that the police staff and officials in the jail cannot meet the prisoners alone.
He also said "....We have come to know only through media reports that a judge has received letters from the suggestion box. We have not got the letter yet. One getting the letter, we will find out truth about it, and take action."
(With PTI inputs)