December 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules). Ten years on, we have seen progress for women in criminal justice systems in some areas, and this is to be celebrated, but implementation of the Bangkok Rules remains piecemeal and insufficient – and most notably, the global female prison population continues to rise.
In this joint civil society Call to Action coordinated by Penal Reform International, 83 organisations around the world express alarm at the significant increase in the global female prison population since the adoption of the Bangkok Rules – which aim to reduce the imprisonment of women – and the continuing discrimination and abuse experienced by women in criminal justice systems. We call on all governments to fully implement the Rules, and work to ensure the rights of women that come into contact with the criminal justice system. Specifically, we call for governments to urgently:
- Reduce the imprisonment of women
- Promote the rehabilitation and social reintegration of women
- Ensure women’s rights are respected at all stages of the criminal justice system
- Facilitate mental healthcare provision in prison and undertake specific efforts to mitigate negative mental health impacts of COVID-19 measures affecting women
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