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UN rapp slams Lankan prisons

2013 Oct 28

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo says in some Sri Lankan prisons, cells are infested with rats; beds, mats and pillows are often lacking; and no fans are provided even when temperatures climb to dangerous levels.

Manjoo has said this in a report on the ‘Causes, Conditions and Consequences of Women’s Incarceration’ submitted to the UN General Assembly, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said today.

In her report, Manjoo notes that in Sri Lanka, in some prisons two bathrooms, which are frequently in a serious state of disrepair, are allocated for every 75 inmates to share.

The UN Special Rapporteur also notes that a cell that should hold 75 prisoners often has to ccommodate around 150.

Manjoo warned that many countries are witnessing a disproportionate rate of increase of incarcerated women, compared to their male counterparts, as well as harsher detention conditions for them than men.

“Disturbingly, in some countries women are also imprisoned for ‘moral’ crimes such as adultery or extramarital sex, facing stringent evidentiary rules that even result in the incarceration of rape victims,” she noted. “Current domestic and international anti-drug policies are one of the leading causes of rising rates of incarceration of women around the world.”

Manjoo also reflected on how gender stereotyping can have disproportionate negative effects on women, including increased sentencing patterns and specific forms of violence, as compared to male prisoners. “Women belonging to ethnic and racial minorities also face a disproportionate rate of incarceration,” she notes in her report.

“A strong link exists between violence against women and their detention, whether prior to, during or post-incarceration,” the human rights expert said. “For instance, evidence suggests that incarcerated women have been victims of violence at a much higher rate prior to entering prison than is acknowledged by the legal system generally.”

Her report also examines the consequences of incarceration on several aspects of women prisoners’ lives. It shows how women prisoners often face harsher conditions than those experienced by their male counterparts. (Colombo Gazette) 

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