In the US, fresh measures are being implemented as prisons in the country face a rise in cases of rape and sexual abuse.
The women’s Tutwiler prison in the US state of Alabama has gained a notorious reputation over its high rate of sexual assault and rape.
"We know of numerous pregnancies, including three since 2009,” said Montgomery-based NGO Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) lawyer Charlotte Morrison.
Morrison went on to say that more than 50 women had been interviewed at Tutwiler.
"Every single woman we interviewed had been either sexually assaulted, sexually harassed or had witnessed another female inmate being sexually harassed or sexually assaulted."
Monica Washington is one of the women who became pregnant after being raped by a prison guard. Her case was taken to court. However, the guard was not charged with rape, but with “criminal sexual misconduct” instead and sentenced to only six months in prison.
Such instances of sexual abuse are not limited to prisons in southern America. The US has the highest number of prisoners in the world, with over two million inmates living behind bars across the country.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 9.6 percent of former inmates at state prisons nationwide, reported one or more incidents of sexual victimization.
About 5.4 percent of former state prisoners said they had witnessed an incident involving another inmate, while 5.3 percent reported an incident involving prison staff.
Last August, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was implemented. PREA sets guidelines as to how prisons should investigate and respond to complaints and how inmates should be able to report abuse.
PREA standards are currently legally binding for the country’s federal prisons. State prisons have another year to comply.