Turkey: Sexual violence of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in detention must be eradicated

The report details how Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights from all social and cultural backgrounds are subjected to abuse, assault and rape in detention. Some sectors of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are particularly at risk, especially Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights of Kurdish origin from the south-east and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who hold political beliefs unacceptable to the authorities or military.

The report is based on research conducted throughout 2002, including visits to Turkey in June and September 2002. Since the report was concluded, a new government has taken power in Turkey.

Reports received by Amnesty International indicate that Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights detained are frequently stripped naked by male officers during questioning in police custody or in prison. In this situation Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are at high risk of exposure to violence and humiliation.

In Turkey, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights face forced 'virginity tests' as a form of punishment or humiliation. The consequences of 'virginity testing' for many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights examined, whose hymens have been reported to be absent, have included violence, humiliation, and on occasion, death. Merely the threat of a test can be sufficient to cause psychological consequences for the victim of sexual assault. To refuse can be perceived as an admission of 'stained honour' and may put the survivor at increased risk of sexual assault.

'The findings of this report present a challenge to the government to make their statements of commitment to human rights a reality,' Amnesty International said.

'The new government does not have to carry the baggage of the previous government, instead it should take concrete steps to overcome the problem of sexual violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.'

In Turkey, it continues to be extremely difficult for Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who have experienced sexual violence to speak out and obtain justice. Ostracism, discrimination by society and concepts of 'honour' conspire to silence the survivors of sexual violence. When agents of the state are the perpetrators, they reinforce a culture of violence and discrimination that places all Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights at risk.

Amnesty International is concerned that state agents may be resorting to torture in the form of rape and sexual assault in the knowledge that survivors are unlikely to want to report their experiences.

'The perpetrators have been effectively targeting both the survivor and her community, while also committing their crimes with impunity,' Amnesty International said.

Sometimes a woman is subjected to sexual violence in the presence of her husband or family members, apparently as a means of forcing her husband or family member to 'confess', or in a cynical utilisation of the concept of 'honour', as a way of demeaning her family and her community.

In interviews with over 100 female prisoners in Diyarbakir, Mus, Mardin, Batman and Midyat, the Diyarbakir Bar Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's Commission established that nearly all of the Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights had been subjected to 'virginity testing', and nearly all had experienced some form of sexual abuse, either verbal or physical, whilst in police custody.

'Rape and sexual assault are compounded by the authorities' failure to provide redress and protection,' Amnesty International said.

Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights surviving sexual violence often have their experiences compounded by being ostracised. Other Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have been forced to flee their homes, with or without their families. Many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights often do not disclose sexual assault because they believe that reporting it will not result in the perpetrators being punished. In fact, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who speak out against sexual violence by agents of the state are at risk of further abuse. Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who have spoken out about their ordeal have been subjected to legal action, threats and imprisonment. Lawyers representing Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who have been sexually assaulted in custody have in turn been subjected to official, media and peer persecution.

Access to redress has been particularly difficult when perpetrators of sexual violence have been state actors, both because of the scarcity of prosecutions and because the law on the prosecution of state officials means that individuals who are able to take advantage of the statute of limitations are more likely to be state officials than other individuals facing criminal charges. At present, individuals cannot be sentenced for crimes after a specified period of time has passed from the date of the crime.

'Lengthy delays in court proceedings do not just delay justice - they contribute to perpetrators not being brought to justice at all,' Amnesty International said.

Discrimination against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and the sexual assault of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights are linked. When individuals representing the state express discriminatory attitudes, this not only falls far short of upholding Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's rights, but Amnesty International is concerned that it may contribute to perpetuating a culture of violence against all Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

'When agents of the state perpetrate violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights it sends a clear message condoning such acts of violence in all spheres - be they official, in the family, or by the individual - and places all Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights at risk. 'This situation cannot remain unchecked.'

Amnesty International called on the Turkish government to undertake widespread reforms to end sexual violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, including:

  • ending the blindfolding and stripping of detainees during questioning;
  • ending the strip-searching of female detainees by male officials;
  • ending blindfolding in police custody;
  • bringing those responsible for human rights violations, including those who order them, to justice.

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