Amnesty International to Report Abuse of Female Inmates

Amnesty International has uncovered widespread evidence that female inmates in U.S. prisons are subjected to a “double sentence” of rape, unwanted groping and fondling, and other inhumane treatment meted out by prison guards. Michel Forst, who heads Amnesty International in France, said that female inmates are punished both through their court-ordered sentences and “specific humiliation because they are women.”

In a report to be issued tomorrow, a New York prisoner was quoted as saying that officers had forced her to perform oral sex on them. Other female prisoners in Arizona told Amnesty International that prison guards had subjected them to “frequent, prolonged, close-up and prurient viewing during dressing, showering and use of toilet facilities.”

The report also alleged racial discrimination in imprisonment, noting that the percentage of black and Hispanic women in prisons is wildly distorted compared to their makeup in the general U.S. population. “The rate of imprisonment of black women is more than eight times the rate of imprisonment of white women; the rate of imprisonment of Hispanic women is nearly four times the rate of imprisonment of white women,” the report read.

Amnesty International furthers alleges that pregnant women are subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” both during and after labor. Prison inmates are shackled at the arms and legs while they give birth. The report cites Dr. Patricia Garcia of Northwestern University as saying “Having the woman in shackles compromises the ability to manipulate her legs into the proper position for the necessary treatment,” noted that incapacitating the women is dangerous for both mothers and newborns. After grueling labor, women prisoners are then subjected to further suffering. The report noted, “In at least 40 states, babies are taken from their imprisoned mothers almost immediately after birth or at the time the mother is discharged from hospital.”


AFP - March 3, 1999

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