Rise in number of women prisoners

PORTUGAL IS third among EU countries for the percentage of women in its prison population.

According to a European Parliament study, the EU average is five per cent but Portugal registers seven per cent, equivalent to 914 women, of its total prison population.

The report, Women in European Prisons, was prepared by the Committee for Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities of the European Parliament and released last Thursday to mark International Women’s Day on Saturday.

Holland has the largest percentage of women in prison, with 8.8 per cent, followed by Spain with 7.9 per cent.

Drug trafficking and consumption are the two main reasons for women to be arrested in most of the countries in the European Union.

One of the worrying conclusions of the document is the fact that half of the women in European jails have their children with them.  In Portugal, women can keep their babies with them until the age of three but this limit varies from country to country.

The average age of the detained women ranges from 20 to 40 and the study concludes that more women are being arrested following a degradation of their living conditions and access to training and equal treatment in employment.

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