Comments on U.N. Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners: A Focus on Violence against Women
Thursday, September 25, 2008 4:36 PM

A report issued by the Quaker United Nations Office in June 2008, provides commentary on the United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.  Specifically, this report focuses on women in prison and addresses a broad range of topics.  These include: girl prisoners, rehabilitation programs for women, health and mental illness in prisons, the separate detention of men and women, and more.  There are also sections of the report that are of particular interest to the issue of violence against women.  

Throughout the commentary, the report stressed that the majority of female prisoners have experienced violent and/or sexual assault at some point during their lives.  In light of this, mandatory strip-searches are often a humiliating and upsetting process for the women who face them.  The commentary notes that strip-searches should be conducted by a member of the same gender and should occur as infrequently as possible.  Prison staff should also ensure that men and women are separated as much as possible for the duration of their incarceration.   The report also comments that women who are detained in armed conflict should be protected from rape, assault or forced prostitution.  Additionally, the report applauds laws that recognize the need to give extra attention to women who have experienced any forms of abuse—sexual, physical, and mental.

To read the full report, click here. (PDF 130 pages)

Compiled from: Megan Bastick and Laurel Townhead, “Women in prison: A commentary on the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners”, Quaker United Nations Office: Human Rights & Refugees Publications, June 2008.