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        Economic and Social Council
3 March 2004

Original: ENGLISH/

Sixtieth session
Item 12 (a) of the provisional agenda



Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women,
its causes and consequences, Yakin Ertürk


Communications to and from Governments *

* The summary of this report and the confidential information form (see appendix) are being circulated in all official languages. The report itself is contained in the annex to the summary and is being circulated in the languages of submission only.


At its fifty-ninth session, the Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 2003/45, encouraged the Special Rapporteur to respond effectively to reliable information that comes before her. It requested all Governments to cooperate with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of her mandated tasks and duties, to supply all information requested, including with regard to implementation of her recommendations, and to respond to the Special Rapporteur's visits and communications. The Commission furthermore invited the Special Rapporteur to continue to cooperate with other special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and chairpersons of the working groups of the special procedures of the Commission, including, where appropriate, undertaking joint missions, joint reports, urgent appeals and communications.

A standard reporting form is available for documenting alleged instances of violence against women (see appendix). In this connection, it should be emphasized that, in accordance with her mandate, the Special Rapporteur is in a position only to process cases of alleged violence or threats of violence directed against women because of their sex. The definition of violence against women used by the Special Rapporteur is taken from the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/104.

The Special Rapporteur wishes to inform the Commission that during the period under review she transmitted communications to the Governments of: Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. In addition the Governments of Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, China, Egypt, Greece, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Uruguay provided the Special Rapporteur with replies on cases and reports submitted during the year under review, whereas the Governments of Australia, China, India, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka did so with respect to cases submitted in previous years.

This report contains, on a country-by-country basis, summaries of general and individual allegations, as well as urgent appeals transmitted to Governments, and their replies thereto. Observations by the Special Rapporteur have also been included where applicable. The names of some of the victims whose cases are presented in this report have been replaced by initials, in order to respect their privacy and to prevent further revictimization. The full names of all victims have been provided to the Government concerned.




Communications sent to the Government

10. On 21 July 2003 the Special Rapporteur, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on torture, sent a communication regarding the situation of women prisoners in Neve Tirza prison in Ramallah. According to the information received, a group of women prisoners were attacked with severe violence when they refused to stand up for roll-call. It is reported that tear gas was sprayed into small and crowded cells and many of the women prisoners were injured. One prisoner, Arij Ataf Sbahi Shahabri, was reportedly thrown to the floor and beaten on the back to the extent that she could not walk properly afterwards. Another prisoner, Kahara Elsa'adi, also could not walk and she reportedly had a broken arm and a swollen neck.
11. On 10 November 2003 the Special Rapporteur sent a communication jointly with the Special Rapporteur on torture regarding A.M. (f), a female detainee at Ramleh prison and six other female detainees, ‘Aishah ‘Abeyat (f), ‘Umayah Dammaj (f), Ra’eda Jadallah(f), Wasfiyeh Abu ‘Ajamiyeh(f), Samar Bader (f) and Su’ad Ghaza (f). The case of A.M. had already been included in previous urgent appeals sent by the Special Rapporteur on torture (E/CN.4/2003/68/Add.1, para. 739, and E/CN.4/2002/76/Add.1, para. 813). The Government provided information on this case by letter dated 14 February 2002 (E/CN.4/2003/68/Add.1, para. 740). According to new information received, A.M. was transferred to an isolation cell of Ramleh prison on 25 October 2003. One hour later, she was allegedly ordered to strip in order to be searched. It is reported that she refused as there were male guards in the cell. She is also reported to have refused to strip when the male guards left the room as they were standing behind the cell door. Later that day, another group of guards came to her cell, sprayed her with tear gas and forced her to strip. She allegedly received blows on the body, back and hands. She is also believed to have been grabbed by the throat and strangled. As a result of the treatment received, she reportedly began bleeding from the mouth and started to lose consciousness. Three hours later, she was reportedly transferred to another isolation cell and given a sedative. She was allegedly charged with attacking three guards and put in isolation for seven days. She reportedly started an open-ended hunger strike on 27 October 2003 to protest against her solitary confinement. On the following day, she was reportedly transferred to another isolation cell. It is alleged that she has not received medical treatment for the injuries allegedly sustained as a result of the beatings she received. It is also alleged that her health condition has deteriorated. Concern has been expressed for her physical integrity if she does not receive prompt and adequate medical assistance. According to the information received, 40 other female detainees started a hunger strike to protest against the reported treatment of A.M. In reprisal, the penitentiary authorities reportedly placed the six women named above in isolation, confiscated television sets and mattresses and prohibited 40 women from having access to basic necessities provided in the canteen.


12. The Special Rapporteur would like to reiterate her interest in receiving a reply from the Government in regard to the allegations submitted.



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