Human Rights Council Resolution on violence against women and girls in detention adopted

Penal Reform International: A resolution tabled by Canada was adopted at the Human Rights Council last week on ‘Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: preventing and responding to all forms of violence against women and girls in criminal justice detention’.

Civil society, including Penal Reform International, supported Canada with the drafting of the text which was weakened in places during negotiations, but ultimately was adopted without a vote and contains the following key points:

  • Recognizing that patriarchal expectations on women’s and girls’ public and private behaviour may lead to heavier penalties for women and girls than men and boys for the same crimes,
  • Stressing the detrimental effects of criminal justice detention, and noting with concern the increasing number of women and girls being incarcerated for minor and non-violent offences and offences that solely or disproportionately affect women and girls,
  • Concerned about the disproportionate incarceration of women and girls for crimes related to poverty, such as theft, fraud, inability to pay debts and other offences related to homelessness or poor living conditions, and the discriminatory application of public order offences, such as loitering, vagrancy, public nuisance and public indecency, which are often applied to women and girls experiencing poverty,

It calls on States to take a number of immediate actions, including: “Reviewing, and repealing or adjusting as appropriate, all laws and policies that exclusively or disproportionately target or criminalize the actions or behaviour of women and girls and laws and policies that are discriminatory against them, including as a result of any custom, tradition or misuse of culture or religion, and creating accountability mechanisms to end impunity and prevent, eliminate and remedy any discriminatory application of the law;

It also mandates a report by OHCHR on “the situation of human rights of women and girls in criminal justice detention, including information on practices and measures to prevent and address violence against women and girls in the context of criminal justice detention, as well as good practices and challenges related to rehabilitation and reintegration policies and programmes,”.

The full resolution is available in all UN languages here:

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18 July, 2023
Type of Update:
In the News
Updates from our Partners
Human Rights
Petty Offences
Pre-trial Detention
Use of Public Spaces
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Penal Reform International

The Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty and Status is a coalition of organisations from across the world that advocate for the repeal of laws that target people based on poverty, status or for their activism.


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