Lawyers from the Civil Society in the Penal System (CİSST) have said female inmates in Bakırköy Prison are subject to mistreatment and humiliating practices, the Bianet news website reported.
Lawyers Berivan Korkut and Gülizar Tuncer said rights violations occurred especially in providing proper healthcare. There were complaints that sick inmates underwent physical examinations in handcuffs.
Last week an X-ray of the wrists of Mücella Yapıcı, who is currently serving an 18-year sentence for allegedly aiding in attempts to topple the Turkish government during the Gezi Park protests of 2013, circulated on social media.
The image showed handcuffs on Yapıcı’s wrists, clearly indicating they were taken while she was still handcuffed. Yapıcı reportedly also underwent eye and heart examinations while handcuffed.
The revelation caused an outcry among human rights advocates, who said the practice was against patients’ rights.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker and former dentist Gamze Akkuş-İlgezdi said she could not fathom performing an examination on somebody who was strapped to their chair. “This reminds of torture, not a medical examination,” she said.
According to regulations inmates can only be subjected to medical examinations in handcuffs if they pose a threat. Any other time that the practice is observed, the attending doctor will be subject to a disciplinary investigation.
However, most inmates said they were afraid to report their doctors; therefore, the practice has become concerningly common.
Yapıcı’s experiences were not uncommon in Bakırköy Prison as many other female inmates said they felt mistreated and humiliated during medical examinations.
Male security officers insist on being present even during gynecological examinations, and many female inmates refrain from asking to be seen by a doctor to avoid this.
In many cases doctors are only present in prisons for three to four hours a week, making it nearly impossible for all sick inmates to be seen.
Bakırköy Prison is notorious for neglecting sick prisoners. Last year, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Hüda Kaya submitted a parliamentary question addressing Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül regarding the lack of accessible healthcare for inmates.