Human rights of women in prison: A Toolbox to implement the UN Bangkok Rules

Date and Location: Wednesday, October 16 in Conference Room 6

Key Speakers: HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol (Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN Office, Vienna), Mari Amos (Member, UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment), Andrea Huber (Policy Director, Penal Reform International), Ambassador Adisak Panupong (Executive Director, Thailand Institute for Justice), Frank Elbers (Director, Human Rights Education Associates)

written By: Aniket Kesariuncsw

This was a special panel about women’s rights in prisons that was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Thailand.  The main focus of the panel was to present a new program called the “Toolbox.”  The Toolbox is a collection of online modules, about 10 hours in length total, that teach viewers about how to treat women properly in prisons. 

The videos are meant to be watched by policymakers, administrators, and prison staff and give in-depth instructions for how to properly respect women’s human rights in prison and within the criminal justice system as a whole.  The Toolbox is available in English, Russian, and Arabic.

Some participants raised questions about its effectiveness and reach, but Andrea Huber from Penal Reform International pointed out that this was a very low-cost method and as time goes on her organization will work to increase its reach, add more language options, and supplement it with features such as voiced narration.

The keynote speech was delivered by Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol from Thailand.  She detailed the problems associated with women in prison.  In particular, she highlighted the stigma surrounding women who go through the criminal justice system.

They are oftentimes abandoned by their families because of the shame and embarrassment associated with prison.  Because they lack a family support structure, they usually have few resources to rely upon once they leave prison, and are condemned to poverty, illiteracy, and possibly recidivism.

She discussed the need to use the Toolbox and other measures to counteract the stigma and provide women with adequate resources and dignity both within prison and once they leave.

Edited By: Wayne Dean Doyle

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