The growth in prison populations is a world-wide phenomenon, and within the overall growth rate, many countries are seeing a disproportionate rate of increase among women. Despite differences in culture and resources, women everywhere face similar problems in prison systems, which have been designed primarily by and for men. These include sexual abuse, lack of appropriate medical care, loss of children and breakdown of families. The United States leads the world in both the overall size of its prison population and its rate of incarceration. Advocates for reform are increasingly turning to international human rights laws, standards and norms to provide the framework for addressing many of the problems facing women prisoners.