Love Behind Bars How Tihar nurtures children in jail with their mothers

New Delhi, Sep 17 : It is said that love transcends all boundaries and this is being proven true in the national capital???s dreaded Tihar Jail where children born to incarcerated mothers are being given the kind of upbringing and care that one can never expect in a place that houses hardened criminals. Currently, 37 children aged between 0-6 years that call Central Jail Number Six their home for now, are receiving remarkable care, education, and medical attention within the confines of the high walls of the prison. Special care of these children begins at the prenatal stage and continues through their birth till they start their schooling and eventually leave the prison after reaching the age of six. A dedicated gynecologist regularly visits the prison, providing essential checkups and medical support to the expectant mothers. "Pregnant inmates are given all the medical facilities they need, and women doctors are there round-the-clock in case any expectant mother needs help," said a senior prison official. The care extends to counseling for expectant mothers, providing guidance and support on pregnancy-related issues. Once a woman gives birth, she stays under observation with her newborn in an eight-bed ward housed in a separate barrack meant for inmates with children. The focus is on ensuring the well-being of both mother and child in the crucial early days of the confinement. The special care doesn't stop at childbirth and the young ones are provided with comprehensive medical care as they grow. ???A certified vaccination centre within the prison ensures they receive the jabs necessary for the baby???s well-being and survival. The prison???s immunisation programme covers vital vaccines like BCG, Polio, Hepatitis, DPT, and Tetanus,??? said another official. Beyond excellent healthcare, these children are offered a unique opportunity for learning. A dedicated crèche operates within the prison, offering pre-primary education. It also boasts of a variety of activities like games, drawing, and singing. This early educational foundation prepares them for school, setting the stage for a brighter future beyond the prison walls. Tihar???s commitment to the welfare of these children extends to their nutritional needs as well. A separate kitchen that caters to the children ensures that they get daily servings of milk and fruits, so vital for their early development. Not just this, the prison staff takes care of the children???s Emotional Quotient as well and their birthdays are celebrated by jail officials and NGOs. The children receive toys, storybooks, clothes, and essential hygiene products like soap, cream, powder, and oil as gifts. Yet, the road ahead isn't forgotten. Once the children near the age of six and no family member comes forward to take them home, or if the relatives are not financially equipped to support them, the prison authorities take charge. Taking a proactive approach, the prison authorities collaborate with the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to secure a place for these young ones in childcare institutions, ensuring their continued care and development. In a prison environment where compassion is usually in short supply, Tihar Jail authorities are charting a new path and redefining expectations by providing not just a roof over these children's heads, but the care, education, and support they need to thrive. Their dedication reminds us that even behind bars, the human spirit can find ways to nurture and protect the most vulnerable among us. (Shekhar Singh can be reached at /IANS


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