Terra, Trabalho e Cidadania Institute

Women away from Prisons - Facing the Invisibility of Women Undergoing Criminal Justice

São Paulo

Objectives and target audience

Promote female disincarceration by fostering the application of alternative sentences to the pre-trial detention of women, reducing the harm caused to their lives by incarceration.

Main activities

Prepare a literature review on methodology and on the theme of custody hearings; hiring a statistical consultant. developing a quantitative sample to be applied at custody hearings; pre-field research; elaboration and improvement of the form to collect data during custody hearings; field research during custody hearings in the city of São Paulo and in the Greater São Paulo; interviews with justice system authorities; elaboration of a report on the impact of custody hearings on women; writing the research report.

Organize a workshop with women prisoners. Define the prison unit where the workshops will be held; contact the director of the prison unit where the workshops will be held to authorize the activity; promote the activity for the women in the unit; hold the workshops; register the meetings; prepare graphic material for the workshops using the MulhereSemPrisão report; after the workshops, produce new material based on the contribution provided by the women detainees; assessing the activity.

Political impact

Proceeding with the participation in meetings organized by the Public Defender’s Office of the State of São Paulo on improving the quality of the of policies meant to assist women pre-trial detainees; taking part in capacity trainings for human rights defenders; contacting the Public Defender’s Office to present the conclusions of the MulhereSem-Prisão report and propose the development of actions in partnership; contacting the organization Transforma MP, formed by justice and human rights prosecutors to present the conclusions of the MulhereSemPrisão report and propose the development of actions in partnership; contacting the Association of Judges for Democracy (AJD); contacting the National Council of Justice (CNJ) to present the conclusions of the MulhereSemPrisão report and propose the development of actions in partnership; contacting the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) to present the conclusions of the MulhereSemPrisão report and propose the development of actions in partnership; working in partnership with the Criminal Justice Network on the draft of the New Code of Criminal Procedure proposal; working in partnership with the Criminal Justice Network in the two bills that prohibit the abusive body search; working in partnership with the Criminal Justice Network in the bill that prohibits the use of handcuffs in women in labor; working in partnership with the Criminal Justice Network on the bill called “11 civilizational measures for the criminal justice system”, especially on the project that grants the conditional suspension of the sentence due to maternity; participation in a working group on gender discrimination in the criminal justice system within the Criminal Justice Network; participation in an amicus curiae for the Proposal for Binding Precedent nº 125 filed by the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the STF, which reads as follows: The so called privileged drug trafficking (article 33, § 4, of Law 11.343 / 2006) does not constitute a heinous crime, and the most rigorous parameters provided by article 44, sole paragraph, of Law 11,343 / 2006 and Law 8.072 /nineteen ninety”); press for the release of qualified official data on women prisoners through the articulation of civil society, NGOs and social movements related to this agenda; ongoing training for lawyers who will hold custody hearings on a project carried out by the Institute for the Defense of the Right to Defense (IDDD); promotion of discussion with social movements and feminist movements to discuss the MulhereSemPrisão report.


Elaboration of a communication plan to disclose the results of the MulhereSemPrisão report in different media; publication of press texts with the aim of disseminating the results; elaboration of a social media campaign to publicize the launch event of the MulhereSemPrisão report; launching the MulhereSemPrisão report; press interviews; Debating Cycle #WhiteWithoutMoney; in partnership with the Criminal Justice Network disseminate the newsletter on gender discrimination in criminal justice through online interviews with the authors; preparation of a document summarizing recommendations for the disincarceration of women with a view to the promotion of advocacy actions; preparation and presentation of an article on the MulhereSemPrisão report at the 13th World Women’s Congress (MM), an international and interdisciplinary meeting of and on women; participation in events and presentation of the Women Without Prison report in debates, seminars; etc.; video on research recommendations related to the impact caused by precautionary measures on women’s lives and difficulties in complying with them; Dissemination in social media.



The gender specificities of incarcerated women are invisible in their criminal proceedings. The procedural documents themselves provide no information on maternity, such as the number of children or stage of pregnancy. This invisibility is even greater when gender is related to other social markers, as in the case of trans people, disabled and/or elderly women. The implementation of custody hearings in Brazil was a progress towards the construction of criminal justice policies with a potential for disincarceration, by allowing the arrested person to be taken to court within 24 hours of their arrest so that the legality of the flagrant arrest can be verified, as well as the conventionality of release or pre-trial detention, and the occurrence of ill-treatment and torture. For women caught in flagrant, custody hearings mean greater visibility of their gender and vulnerability specificities, since prior to custody hearings, according to a research called Tecer Justiça (Sewing Justice), conducted by ITTC and the Prison Pastoral, the first encounter of an incarcerated woman with the judge took an average of 136 days after her flagrant arrest, more than a month later than men in the same situation (109 days). According to data from research conducted by INFOPEN, 44.7% of imprisoned women are pre-trial detainees, a much larger proportion than men (39.08%), which demonstrates that custody hearings have the potential to disincarcerate women. In addition, institutional mechanisms have been developed to guarantee provisional release based on gender criteria, such as the extension of legal hypotheses for the application of house arrest for pregnant women and women with children up to 12 years of age, based on the Legal Framework for Early Childhood (Law no. 13257/16) and the official translation of the Bangkok Rules by the National Justice Council (CNJ), in order to reinforce the need for alternative sentences for women. The promotion of alternative sentences to the provisional arrest of women must be articulated and discussed with the various actors of the justice system – Public Defenders, Judges, and Public Prosecution – to improve and expand the application of the Early Childhood Legal Framework and the Rules of Bangkok. These actors should be able to listen to women detainees, understand their individual situations, the gender specificities and the violation of rights caused by their imprisonment.

About the organization

ITTC (Instituto Terra, Trabalho e Cidadania) is a human rights organization founded in 1997 aiming to eradicate gender inequality, guarantee rights, and fight imprisonment. The institute’s mission is to promote access to justice, guarantee the rights of imprisoned people and produce knowledge through a constant and systematic work in the following areas: assistance, public dialogue and education for citizenship.




Funding Line

Criminal Justice (2017-2018)



Total Granted

R$ 525.075,00


20 months

Main Themes

Guaranteeing the rule of law and criminal justice

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