The number of women prisoners in custody in Europe is constantly
increasing. Despite this increase, however, women are still only
a minority of the prison population, with the result that there
are very few prisons for women. For this reason, they are often
imprisoned in places far from their homes, which makes it very difficult to
maintain family ties. Furthermore, because prison regimes have been
specially designed for men, in most cases one finds a glaring lack
of programmes and provisions suited to the female prison population.
Even if it is short, a prison sentence has disastrous effects
on women because it seriously disrupts family life. Most women in
prison are mothers and usually in sole charge of the children.
In order to improve the conditions of detention of women in
prison, the report calls for the implementation of the revised European
Prison Rules and, in addition, it formulates specific recommendations
for the member states of the Council of Europe as regards the detention
of mothers or pregnant women in prison, the health and educational
needs of women prisoners, the respect of human dignity of women
prisoners and measures to assist them in their social reintegration.