Women in prison: a "tough place"

Prisoners have a disproportionately high rate of poor mental health. The rates are even higher for incarcerated women, who are 700,000 worldwide.

Women and girls make up 7% of the global prison population, in various proportions. While they represent 3% in African countries, it goes up to 8 % in the Americas, and 6 % in Europe. The highest proportions are found in Hong Kong-China (21%), Laos (18%) or Qatar (15%)1.

The Guide Women in prison: mental health and well-being – a guide for prison staff has been published by Penal Reform International (PRI), in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust. It focuses on women and how they can be subject to mental distress while incarcerated, and is dedicated to prison and probation staff. Olivia Rope is the director of policy and international advocacy at PRI. We asked her three questions.

Separation from family can affect a person’s mental health and well-being. For women who are often the main caregivers it can be very distressing to be separated from their family.

In another country in West Africa, there are reported to be just two doctors providing medical services to over 15,000 people in 46 prisons.

Prison visits are important times and the guide explains how these can affect people in different ways.

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