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Of Women 'Inside'

Based on original research and personal encounters, this book narrates the real-life-stories of women locked up in Indian prisons for alleged or actual violations of the state's criminal laws. It contextualises women offenders' experiences of the criminal justice system and of state custodial institutions within the larger narratives of their particular lives, thus interrogating the social as well as legal frameworks within which women face adversities in their lives and in custody. It argues that the sex and gender issues that affect women 'outside' are carried over 'inside', with extremely damaging consequences for the lives and mental health of women prisoners. The volume will be of interest to those in gender studies, legal studies, sociology, and human rights organisations, as well as to policy makers and the general reader.
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Table of Contents

List of Plates. Acknowledgements. Introduction 1. Saloni's Choice 2. Rukhsana doesn't Belong Here 3. The Maiming of Mumta 4. Bina's Fourteen Years of jailvas 5. Hasina, the Husband Slayer 6. Vimla to Pagal Hai (Vimla is Insane) 7. Shobhavati: Married at Ten, Thirteen Children, There Survive 8. Urvashi: `In a Woman's Body' 9. Lakshmi: `Long Live the Revolution' 10. Raziya: I am Staff and Imprisoned. Conclusions and New Beginnings. Bibliography. About the Author. Index

About the Author

Rani Dhavan Shankardass is Secretary-General, Penal Reform and Justice Association (PRAJA), India, and Honorary President of Penal Reform International (UK).


These well-told and often shocking, life stories of women serving time in prison convey with great power the injustice that makes the prison the destination for many of society's unwanted and abused women. The author's subjects are all prisoners in India but their experiences and the author's conclusions are universal in their application. This is a book that must be read by those who wish to see more justice for women. - Baroness Vivien Stern, Senior Research Fellow, International Centre for Prison Studies; Visiting Professor, University of Essex This book is an extremely useful contribution to the law literature in penology based on case studies of women prisoners. I am aware that this is not an easy task, mainly due to the prison system, but most crucial, the reluctance of women to share their life stories. The book is significant for further research and study on a comparatively neglected aspect of criminology - the loss of their human rights and gender-based discrimination faced by women even within closed spaces. It is very readable and will hold the interest of a diverse audience. - Justice J. S. Verma, Former Chief Justice of India; Former Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India

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