There has been a dramatic rise in violence against women during the rule of Justice and Development Party (AKP). When it comes to women in prison, the level of violence has reached a very serious level that sees imprisoned women face systematic verbal, physical and sexual abuse by prison guards, prison administrations and even health personnel working in the prisons, according to MA.
“The vast majority of practices are inhumane. Guards ordering women to show the insides of their mouths is one of such practices,” said Hatice Onaran, a human rights defender and a member of the Human Rights Association’s Committee of Prisons.
Onaran said that since such degrading body cavity searches are imposed on women after each time they need to visit a doctor, most women prisoners now refuse to go for medical checks.
“Even though there are infirmaries in the prison, women are finding it almost impossible to be able to claim their right to health treatment, especially women from the Bakırköy Prison in Istanbul, we hear so many complaints that guards impose stripped searches on women who want to see a doctor,” she said.
“Wherever women leave their cells for medical checks, both after they were taken out and before they were brought back in, strip-searches are imposed on women.”
Explaining that soldiers stationed in prisons also insist on staying in the room where women prisoners are being medically checked, Onaran said that such practices imposed inside prisons jeopardises basic patient rights and doctor-patient ethics and confidentiality.
“The imposition of being handcuffed during medical examinations is also still being practised. There are practices such as not removing the handcuffs during the examination,” she said, giving yet another example of how basic human rights are being violated by Turkish prison officers.
Onaran also criticised the Covid-19 measures in prisons.”The precautionary measures have compounded already existing conditions of isolation,” she said. “It has also paved the way for arbitrary practices of the guards. Women are constantly being punished for tragic-comic reasons.”
Among these tragicomic grounds for disciplinary punishments by prison administration, Onaran lists that there is a practice of using a piece of clothing as a cleaning rag and making cakes with biscuits.
“Guards have claimed that biscuits are used outside their intended use.”
Added on top of all these degrading, dehumanising practices, women prisoners are also banned from sending and receiving letters in an attempt to completely cut their communications with the outside world.
”Violating prisoners’ rights to access information and news constantly being blocked. Despite all these problems, women prisoners continue resisting.”