Prison cells are infested with rats,beds, mats and pillows are often lacking

prisons    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 accommodate around 150.

“Women are being incarcerated for many reasons including incarceration for illegal activities which they commit in response to coercion by abusive partners,” Ms. Manjoo said during the presentation of her special report* on the ‘Causes, Conditions and Consequences of Women’s Incarceration’ to the UN General Assembly.

“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.”

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.

“Women are vulnerable to numerous manifestations of violence, including rape by inmates and guards, being forced into prostitution, or touched in a sexual manner during searches,” she underscored.

The Special Rapporteur also addressed the issue of young children living in prisons with their mothers, as well as the situation of women that are primary caretakers of children, and the devastating effects of their detention on children left behind.

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