SAN FRANCISCO, CA (March 8, 2016)—Aiming to improve legal outcomes for women in Chinese-speaking areas of the world, Dui Hua has just released a Chinese translation of an e-course on sections of the Bangkok Rules regarding non-custodial measures. Earlier this year, Dui Hua Executive Director John Kamm traveled to China and distributed several copies of the translation to Chinese judges, procuratorial officials, and scholars. The course serves as a training guide for legal officials from several Chinese-speaking localities, including those in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. The translation is based on Penal Reform International’s e-course “Women in Detention: Putting the UN Bangkok Rules into Practice,” already available in English, Arabic, and Russian.
Today is International Women’s Day, and this year Dui Hua observes the occasion by recognizing the rising number of women—especially those who are pregnant or who are raising children—living in prisons that are largely built for men. The number of women in mainland Chinese prisons has now risen more than 50 percent since 2003. Hong Kong and Macau—special administrative regions which are not included in China’s statistics—have the largest portions of incarcerated women in the world. Macau’s prison population as of mid-2015 is comprised of 21 percent women, and Hong Kong’s is 19 percent women. As more women enter the criminal justice system, the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (Bangkok Rules) become increasingly important as a framework for meeting the physical and psychological needs of women in penal systems. Non-custodial measures help reduce the social and psychological repercussions of legal sanctions by addressing the needs of pregnant women, keeping families together, and reducing the risk of additional trauma for women who are survivors of gender-based violence.
Dui Hua plans to publicize these materials in the coming months, including publishing the translated materials in mainland Chinese journals and on Chinese-language websites, as well as distributing hard copies to Chinese officials involved in pushing for legal reform. Executive Director Kamm stated, “Promoting the non-custodial measures of the Bangkok Rules, along with robust enforcement of China’s new anti-domestic violence law that became effective March 1, are the best ways of addressing the seemingly inexorable rise in the number of women prisoners in China. Dui Hua is proud to work with its partner, Penal Reform International, to promote the Bangkok Rules with an eye to halting and reversing the incarceration of women.”