Women in Brazilian prisons: tensions between punitive disciplinary order and maternity prescriptions

Vilma Diuana Marilena C.D.V. Corrêa Miriam Ventura About the authors


Aiming to contribute to the debate about maternity in prison, this study analyzed the intersections of gender norms and disciplinary relationships in this context, identifying controversies regarding the values and power relations that sustain them. To that end, she interviewed 22 women - pregnant women and mothers with children in prison - in four Brazilian states, and 19 professionals working in this environment, in addition to five groups with pregnant women and mothers and three with health professionals. It was observed that institutional closure, penal regulations, constant vigilance, restriction of mothers' decision-making power and compulsory separation of children generate tensions and promote peculiar forms of motherhood. Three different analytical categories were produced: interrupted maternity, unauthorized maternity and exclusive maternity. It was concluded that the disciplinary mechanisms characteristic of the penitentiary, by integrating themselves with the self-control practices that mothers perform in function of the care and protection of their children, concretely make these women vulnerable, exposing them and their children to psychic sufferings and moral. It is suggested the need for normative interventions and legal measures, as well as public policies that replace criminal intervention as a strategy to control poverty and other contested ways of life.

gender; women; motherhood; parenthood; prison; rights

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