Brazil: drugs, walls and being a woman

Ranked as the world’s third-highest prison population, its number of imprisoned women is rising increasingly.

Brazil’s prison population tripled in 20 years, resulting to a total of 770,000 inmates in 2,600 prisons. This is due to an increased recourse to detention. The incarceration rate of 133 in 2000 has grown to 466 in nearly two decades. The narration of women imprisonment seems to follow the same trajectory. The number of female prisoners multiplied by six between 2000 and 2016. For almost two thirds of them, the usual grounds for imprisonment are drug-related offences. The Land, Work and Citizenship Institute (Instituto Terra, Trabalho e Cidadania, ITTC) focuses on these women as well as issues relating to gender, justice and drugs.

Cátia Kimis a lawyer. She works with ITTC since two years on two projects, ‘Gender and Drugs’ and ‘Migrant Women’. Marcela Verdade Costa Amaral is a lawyer and a researcher. She is working on the ‘Justice Without Walls’ programme. Prison Insider met them and asked them three questions.

Gender issues and drug-related policies constitute the main sources of female imprisonment.

At ITTC we are constantly striving to advocate for lesser imprisonments.


Instituto Terra, Trabalho e Cidadania (ITTC)

ITTC is a Brazilian human rights organisation founded in 1997, whose aims are to eradicate gender inequalities, respect rights and fight against imprisonment. Its mission is to promote access to justice, to respect for prisoners and create awareness. ITTC areas of action are direct assistance to the people, advocacy and education to citizenry.

• Their website