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Spouses are allowed three-day conjugal visits four times a year. Prisoners who show especially good behavior can even be given two weeks’ leave outside the camp. Bakhmina became pregnant while serving her term and was released several months after giving birth to a daughter. She saw her two older sons only twice during her three years in the penal colony, afraid it would be too traumatic for them to see their mother imprisoned.

Mothers with children under the age of 3 can keep them in centers on penal colony grounds, or in the case of one colony in Mordovia in their barracks. Alekhina’s 5-year-old son and Tolokonnikova’s 4-year-old daughter will live with relatives.

The two punk band members can be punished with up to 15 days in solitary confinement for minor infractions such as failing to make their beds or to put their hands behind their backs at roll call or to greet guards quickly enough.

Perhaps the greatest danger for the band members, however, will be posed by their fellow inmates. Physical violence, while a danger, is relatively rare in comparison to men’s colonies. But the psychological pressure can be greater, said Vitaly Borshchyov, head of the Public Monitoring Commission, a human rights organization that works with the government to improve prison conditions.

“Colonies are all-consuming for women,” he said. “Having a large group of women together in a single space is a recipe for tension and conflicts. You might get beaten up, sexually humiliated or forced to be someone’s lover, especially if you’re a young woman.”

The Pussy Riot members’ lawyers and supporters also fear that Orthodox believers may attack them, either inspired by the extremely negative coverage of their protest on state television or egged on by state officials.

“When things get worse on the outside, it gets transferred into the colonies,” said Lev Ponomarev, a Soviet dissident who runs the Defending Prisoners’ Rights foundation. “Scoundrels think they can get away with more. The authorities are totally indifferent.”

The band members have vowed to remain defiant.

“We will not be silent,” Alekhina told the appeals court Wednesday. “And even if we are in Mordovia or Siberia we will not be silent … however zealously you try to smear us.”