Motherhood behind bars: the struggle for citizens' rights and health for women inmates and their children in Brazil

Miriam Ventura Luciana Simas Bernard Larouzé About the authors

This study analyzes the links between health, rights, legislation, and public policies based on document research on legal safeguards for women and their children residing in prison. The research was conducted at the Federal level and in four States of Brazil: Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso, Paraná, and São Paulo. The study aims to back measures by public agencies to guarantee such rights and to raise awareness of the problem, given the extreme vulnerability of women inmates and their children and the issue's legal and administrative invisibility. The authors identified 33 different legal provisions as points of tension, such as the possibility of house arrest and disparities in the terms and conditions for children to remain inside the prison system. Various provisions cite the Constitutional guarantee of women inmates' right to breastfeed in prison. Meanwhile, the study found gaps in other issues pertaining to motherhood in prison, expressed as dual incarceration (imprisonment arbitrarily extended to their children). It is necessary to expand and enforce the existing legislation to prevent such violations of rights.

Prisons; Maternal and Child Health; Reproductive Rights; Legislation


Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz Rua Leopoldo Bulhões, 1480 , 21041-210 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel.:+55 21 2598-2511, Fax: +55 21 2598-2737 / +55 21 2598-2514 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
E-mail: cadernos@ensp.fiocruz.br