Incidents of sexual offences, especially sodomy, in jails across the country pose risk of health hazards.
Prison Population Statistics 2017 said that 309 cases of sodomy and sexual offences were reported against male inmates in 2016.
Referring to the report prepared in February 2017, prison officials said that that crimes committed by inmates inside prisons were a major headache for the authorities as 10,429 complaints, mostly related to drugs abuses, sexual offences and assaults, were recorded in 2016.
They said that 45 per cent of the recorded offences were directly connected to drugs.
The officials said that quarrelling, fighting, damaging prison properties, assaulting prison staff and creating nuisance were other issues of concern.
The authorities are, however, very worried about sexual offence, especially sodomy, they said.
‘We suspect that 80 per cent incidents of sexual offences go unreported. Most of the offences are committed mutually and only a few are reported when someone witnesses it or it causes trouble among them,’ a senior jail official said.
Ahsan Habib, an outgoing physician at the prison directorate, also said that sodomy caused threat to the sexual and mental health of the inmates.
‘We are concerned about sodomy and a massive awareness programme about reproductive health is needed,’ said Habib, who served as a physician in different jails over 19 years.
He observed that it was difficult for the authorities to deal with the problem as sodomy was a biological instinct and there was hardly other option of recreation.
The Penal Code criminalises sodomy among other sexual offences and it warrants imprisonment for life term.
The prison population statistics identified two male patients with HIV Aids, over 4,500 with drugs related problems, 115 with tuberculosis and 2,425 with asthma and diabetes.
The prison officials said that all those diseases could be treated at prison hospitals or other hospitals but sodomy had to be dealt with a massive awareness programme.
Retired Dhaka central jail superintendent Forman Ali said that social workers and imams were working inside prisons but those were not at all adequate to prevent this sort of crime.
Forman explained that he found most of the long-term prisoners or hardcore criminals involved in sodomy against weak inmates.
According to the statistics, about 5,000 life term prisoners were in jail and 70 per cent of them were married. Some 80 per cent of them were either illiterate or under Class-VIII.
Forman said that the inmates should be segregated based on their behaviour and offences.
‘Motivation is must to prevent sexual offence and need based skill development training is needed to keep inmates busy,’ he said.
Rights organisation Odhikar director ASM Nasiruddin Elan, who was detained in jail for one month in 2013, said that some long-term inmates were involved in sodomy.
Assistant inspector of prisons Muhammad Abdullah Al Mamun said that they were focusing on skill development training to keep the inmates busy.
The statistics said that 13, 819 inmates received skill development training in 2016 by the jail or in collaboration others development partners.
According the statistics, 73,177 inmates were in 68 jails and 58 per cent of them were aged between 18 and 34 years.
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