The Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Girls in Prisons and Detention Settings

By Gabriella Vetrano, ILF intern


When in contact with the justice system, women and girls often face discrimination based on gender and other intersecting identities. This discrimination can look like prosecution for non-criminal acts like running away from home, the criminalization of sexual assault survivors, and violence due to the stigma that follows involvement with the criminal justice system. COVID-19 has only compounded the severity of the situation as crowded and unsanitary conditions inside detention centers now pose a potentially deadly threat to women and girls. Meanwhile, the pandemic has limited the support services available to women and girls upon release from detention.


To bring greater awareness to gender-specific impacts of COVID-19, UN Women Afghanistan began the Gender Alert on COVID-19 series. As part of this series, the International Legal Foundation UNFPA, UNAMA, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) developed a Gender Alert highlighting the most critical issues impacting Afghan women and girls in detention amidst COVID-19. It also provides 12 recommendations to safeguard women and girls in this moment.

You can read the full Gender Alert here.

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