Skip to main content


Back to Resources

Penal Reform and Gender: Update on the Bangkok Rules

11 July, 2012



The number of women prisoners and the proportion of women in prison populations have increased over the past 25 years. As of January 2012, more than 625,000 women and girls were held in penal institutions throughout the world, either as pre-trial detainees or as convicted and sentenced offenders.

On 21 December 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders(the Bangkok Rules). These rules are the first comprehensive, international initiative to highlight and offer guidance in addressing the needs and requirements of women and girls in the criminal justice system. It is important to note that the text acknowledges that some of the Bangkok Rules, particularly those which cover parental or care giving responsibilities, could also apply to men.

DCAF has prepared this update to give national penal policymakers and administrators, international actors supporting prison reform, as well as parliamentarians, civil society organisations and others that play a role in overseeing and monitoring prisons an overview of the requirements of the new Bangkok Rules. The update complements the Gender and Security Sector Reform Toolkit’s Tool on Penal Reform and Gender.


Megan Bastick, Karin Grimm