By Maria Laura Canineu

To enter the unsanitary, violent, and inhumane cells of Brazil’s prisons is to step into a cruel netherworld where neither Brazilian nor international law seem to apply. For nearly 37,000 women behind bars, there is added anguish.

Brazil should make much greater use of alternatives to prison, especially for pregnant women and women with children, as provided by law. It should also stop snaring women in its disastrous “war on drugs” by decriminalizing drug use. Finally, the government should bring prison conditions in the relatively small number of female lockups into compliance with international standards and its own laws.

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Thumbnail: Flickr CC Alexander C. Kafka