Inmates wash the floor in Cartagena's Women's District Jail in preparation for an event marking International Women's Day
Inmates wash the floor in Cartagena's Women's District Jail March 6, 2012, in preparation for an event marking International Women's Day on March 8.

As many as 6,50,000 women and girls, convicted or awaiting trial, are lodged in prisons around the world, says the International Center for Prison Studies (ICPR) in a study carried out at 212 prisons the world over.

The US houses a third of all women prisoners in the world - 201,200. Countries that follow America in female prisoner count are China (84,600), the Russian Federation (59 200), Brazil (35,956) and Thailand (29,175).

Countries where the strength of women prisoners is above 7,000 are India with15,406 and Vietnam with 12,591 women offenders who have been charged or facing trial, followed by Mexico, the Ukraine and Philippines with 10,072, 9,697 and 7,726 respectively.

Since the last study in 2006, the world has experienced a rise of 16 per cent in women prisoners whereas in America the number rose to 23 per cent while the smallest increase was of 6 per cent in European countries.

Around the world, 80 per cent of prisons accommodate 2 to 9 per cent of women prisoners. The highest concentration of women prisoners can be found in the Maldives with 21.6 per cent; Hong Kong has 20 per cent women inmates, Bahrain comes next with 18.5 per cent, followed by Andorra, Macau-China, Qatar and Thailand with 16.4, 14.8, 14.7 and 14.6 per cent respectively.

The average for women in African nations stands at 3.1 per cent followed by Asia with an average as high as 5.95 per cent. The averages in the Americas, Europe and Oceania are 5.15, 2.9, and 3.9 per cent respectively.