By Juliana Borges

This article presents the way in which black women have been criminally punished in Brazil. It recalls how black women were punished with systematic rape during the slavery period. In contemporary times, when women are criminally punished they are considered abnormal, emotionally unbalanced and morally unstable, which leads to diagnoses of “incurable” ills such as madness and hysteria, which serve to corroborate a private sphere of punishment by religious networks and psychiatric establishments. 62% of women are confined due to guilt by association or drug trafficking. This piece of information leads the article to question the precarious nature of the war on drugs and to raise the need to strengthen the voices of women in prison – an emerging item on the human rights agenda.