UN Special Rapporteur Releases Report, Acknowledges Expert Input Received at University of Chicago Law School

UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, presented a report to the UN General Assembly on October 28, 2013 examining the causes, conditions and consequences of women's incarceration. The report, available here, illustrates that there is a strong link between violence against women and women’s incarceration, whether prior to, during or after incarceration. In the report, Ms. Manjoo acknowledges the valuable input provided by participants at the expert group meeting convened at the University of Chicago Law School on May 14, 2013.

The report calls attention to the the undeniable link between violence aginast women and incarceration, and it discusses the continuum of violence women experience during and after incarceration. The report presents evidence from different countries that suggests that incarcerated women have been victims of violence at a much higher rate prior to entering prison than is acknowledged by the legal system generally. Moreover, the report states that many countries have recently witnessed a disproportionate rate of increase in the incarceration of women, compared to their male counterparts. It also notes that women prisoners experience violations of their human rights related to the causes that led to their imprisonment, the conditions they face in prison, and the consequences of their incarceration.

The report makes it clear that it does not intend to portray all incarcerated women as victims of violence or of their lived circumstances, or as passive victims of the the criminal justice system. Rather, it acknowledges that many women are incarcerated for committing crimes, without extenuating circumstances linked to prior experiences of violence. Nonetheless, it concludes that more remains to be done to identify and address the pathways to women’s incarceration; to establish better, safer and more gender-sensitive conditions for women prisoners; to ameliorate the negative consequences of women’s imprisonment; and to reduce the numbers of  women in prison around the world.