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Complying with UN guidelines for meeting the needs of female prisoners

14th August 2012

Penal Reform International (PFI) have produced a Guidance Document and an Index of Compliance to make accessible the set of standards outlined by the United Nations Rules on the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (The Bangkok Rules). Bangkok Rules were adopted in December 2010 by the UN General Assembly, and aim to address the need for gender specific approaches to criminal justice policy. They are a set of standards in relation to areas such as alternatives to custodial sanction, protection of victims of human trafficking, admissions processes upon committal, healthcare and hygiene, young female offenders, pregnant, breastfeeding and mothers with children, and minority women. For example, 

Rule 2

1. Adequate attention shall be paid to the admission procedures for women and children, due to their particular vulnerability at this time. Newly arrived women prisoners shall be provided with facilities to contact their relatives; access to legal advice; information about prison rules and regulations, the prison regime and where to seek help when in need in a language that they understand; and, in the case of foreign nationals, access to consular representatives as well.

2. Prior to or on admission, women with caretaking responsibilities for children shall be permitted to make arrangements for those children, including the possibility of a reasonable suspension of detention, taking into account the best interests of the children.

Rule 3.1

The number and personal details of the children of a woman being admitted to prison shall be recorded at the time of admission. The records shall include, without prejudicing the rights of the mother, at least the names of the children, their ages and, if not accompanying the mother, their location and custody or guardianship status.

PFI's Guidance Document and Index of Compliance outline clear ways for policy makers, legislators, criminal justice staff and prison monitoring bodies to check whether or not they are complying with the Bangkok Rules guidelines.                            

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