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Raised behind bars: How Tihar takes care of inmates kids?

To ensure that the infant receives proper care and treatment, the prison authorities leave no stone unturned in giving a remarkable level of care, education, and medical attention. Not all are born with a golden spoon! For some, the struggle begins right from their birth.

The high-security prison in the national capital -- Tihar Jail -- known even before independence to keep the criminals at bay, is one such place that takes care of some children whose initial years of life are spent there.

There are around 20,200 inmates currently at Asia s largest prison of which 584 are female inmates -- both under trial and convicted -- serving their time at the central jail no 6 of the Tihar prison and 162 female inmates at Mandoli jail.

Decades ago in the 90s, female inmates who were pregnant, used to deliver their children inside the jail premises but later this practice was done away with. Now any pregnant female in her later stages of pregnancy is being shifted to a hospital where she delivers her child, a senior Tihar Prison official told The New Indian Express.

But what happens once a child is born?

The female inmate is brought back to the prison with her child, a few weeks after the delivery,  and shifted back to her ward. This is where the journey of a child, who has just been born, begins behind bars.

To ensure that the infant receives proper care and treatment, the prison authorities leave no stone unturned in giving a remarkable level of care, education, and medical attention within the walls of jails.

Currently, 21 children, aged 0-6 years are residing at the Tihar women s ward while 10 children are at the Mandoli jail with their mothers, the official said. Raising a child is not an easy task, especially when it is behind the four walls. However, right from their birth, the child is given specialized treatment.

Vaccination, creche facilities

“A certified vaccination centre within the prisons ensures they receive necessary immunizations, covering vital vaccines like BCG, polio, hepatitis, DPT, and tetanus. This proactive approach to healthcare safeguards the well-being of these young residents,” said another official.

Apart from their health, these children are also given a primary level of education until they reach the age of six.   A dedicated creche operates within the prison, offering pre-primary education and a variety of activities like games, drawing, and singing. This educational foundation prepares them for school, setting the stage for a brighter future beyond the prison walls, the official said.

When asked who teaches these children, the official informed that NGOs like India Vision Foundation (IVF) provide the teachers while sometimes educated inmates are trained to provide the basic level of education.

It is not just the education, the prison authorities even cater to the nutritional needs of these kids by providing daily servings of milk and fruits. Even their birthdays are celebrated and the children receive toys, storybooks, clothes, and essential hygiene products like soap, cream, powder, and oil.

Must leave at the age of six

After the age of six, the children are not allowed to stay inside prison any longer even if their parents are still incarcerated.

“We ask their relatives to take care of them but in some instances when even relatives are not willing to take their custody, we hand them over to child care centres or some orphanages from where they might get adopted,” the official said.

Some NGOs continue to provide help to these children even when they are outside the four walls of the prison. They ensure their overall development through various interventions to help them achieve their academic, social, and emotional goals, and prevent them from becoming a victim of their parents’ incarceration.

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