Because women and girls represent less than a tenth of the prison population their characteristics and needs have remained unacknowledged and largely unmet by criminal justice systems. Prisons and their regimes – from the architecture and security procedures to healthcare, family contact and training opportunities – are usually designed for men.
There was also a gap existing in international standards on addressing the needs of women in the criminal justice system. In December 2010 this gap was lled when the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Female Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders, known as the Bangkok Rules, were adopted by the UN General Assembly (Resolution A/RES/65/229).
The Rules are crucial to protecting the rights of women offenders and prisoners, explicitly addressing the different needs that women have and the different situations they come from. The Bangkok Rules are also the rst international instrument to address the needs of children in prison with their parent.
By unanimously voting for the Bangkok Rules, 193 countries who are members of the United Nations acknowledged that women in the criminal justice system do have gender-speci c characteristics and needs, and agreed both to respect and meet them.