Report: Russian women's prisons “not for women”

Russian women's prisons are mainly inadequate and many female prisoners suffer psychological damage after long-term stays, according to new research. There are around 50,000 women in prison in Russia, accounting for more than five percent of the prison population. The investigation, started in 1999 by the Justice Ministry's penal department and supported by Penal Reform International, concluded that the worst problems for female prisoners were a lack of adequate sanitary provision and a lack of opportunity for mothers to see their children. "Women are not receiving hygiene resources, although we know they need them at least once a month," Lyudmila Alpyern, deputy director of the Centre for the Promotion of Criminal Justice, is quoted by Reuters as saying. "If we want to be civilised society, this is something we have to pay attention to," she told a news conference to present the research ahead of International Women's Day on March 8. The report concludes that Russian prisons, notorious for being crowded and disease-ridden conditions, were not designed with women in mind. The destruction of the mother-child relationship was also stressed in the report. "Most working mothers are in a situation where they put their children into the creche and go to work and then pick them up again in the evening -this is how it should ideally be in prison as well," said Alexander Dolgikh, one of the authors, who previously worked in the general prosecutor's office.

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