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Number Of Women In Jail Soars, Despite Global Efforts To Bring Down The Count

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Despite the efforts of global leaders to put fewer women behind bars for trivial crimes, the number of women landing up in jails globally has soared by 17% in the span of ten years, penal reformers said on Thursday

According to Penal Reform International (PRI), 741,000 women were in prison worldwide, with about 80% having an identifiable mental illness. COVID-19 has further complicated the situation due to its profound impact on the mental illness of the prisoners.

Also Read: By 2021 Over 100 Million Women Might End Up In Extreme Poverty Due To COVID-19: UN Report

What You Should Know

  • The number of women in jail has gone up by 17%.
  • 741,000 women are in prison worldwide: Penal Reform International.
  • Most women are there in jails for minor crimes.

PRI Executive Director Olivia Rope called for bolder action to bring down the alarming numbers. She told Thomson Reuters Foundation that the situation is really shocking that more and more women are having their lives devastated by prison and mostly for minor offences.

According to PRI analysis published on Human Rights Day, the count of women prisoners has seen an upwards trajectory everywhere except Europe. There is a 50% rise in Asia, 24% in Asia, and 19% in Central and South America.

Furthermore, the analysis brought up several other data to the brim. According to PRI analysis,  35% of women prisoners were behind bars for drug-related offences compared to 19% of men, perhaps because women are mostly used as drug mules.

Condition Of Women In Jail

The United Nations, which a decade ago adopted the Bangkok Rules that promote non-custodial sanctions, said on Thursday that the spike was fueled by disciplinary approaches to minor, non-violent, and unharmful crimes which are often linked to adultery, poverty, and harsh drug policies.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has heightened further as many prisons have suspended family visits fearing the wrath of the current pandemic which has an impact on the mental health issues of the prison inmates especially women. Rope said that many women have children and the trauma of being away from them due to the restrictions have severely impacted their mental health.

Moreover, few women have not been able to get sanitary napkins which were otherwise provided to them by visitors or charities.

In a separate statement by UN leaders and rights groups, they said that they were also concerned about the lack of rehabilitation services provided to women who make up on average 2% to 9% of national prison populations.

Rope added that in comparison to men it is difficult for women to get accepted after they are out of prison.

Sanskriti Tiwari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.