Report on violation of women prisoners’ rights: Turkish jails turned into ‘prisoners camp’

A report, released by the Free Women’s Movement (TJA), has stated that the society has been put under suppression through the  state of emergency (OHAL) and the decree of laws (KHK) and said that the jails in Turkey have been turned into ‘prisoner camps’ in the last 3 years.

The Free Women’s Movement (TJA) has released a study titled “Women’s Rights Violations Report in OHAL and Prisons” on December 12, 2017, on the occasion of the Human Rights Week between December 10-17, about the violations of women prisoners’ rights in the prisons across Turkey under the OHAL and the KHKs, which have been issued by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government under the strict rule of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

According to a news article published in online news portal Aktif Haber, the report is prepared by basing on the letters from the prisoners, the information shared by the prisoners’ families, the related news published in the media and the data compiled by Turkish civil society, human rights organisations and political parties such as Libertarian Jurists Platform (ÖHP), the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Civil Society Association in the Penal Execution System (CİSST), the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV); Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), as well as the reports and questionnaires prepared by institutions and parties, and the statements of women who were recently released from Turkish prison.

The 21-page report has portrayed the physical conditions of the women’s prisons and stated that “There are 12 women’s prisons in Turkey. A total of 8,315 women are being held according to a report on Prisons and Detention Houses in 2016. The 2,702 women prisoners are kept in 8 closed women’s prisons with a capacity of 2,800 and 1,522 women prisoners are kept in 4 women’s open prisons with a capacity of 1,376. Meanwhile, 4,091 women prisoners stay in other types of prisons. The most important development regarding women’s prisoners during the OHAL is the introduction of the transition to the F-type prisons.”


The report stated that the searched of women prisoners’ wards were made by male gendarmes and complaints were made about unnecessary interferences of male wardens towards the prisoners due to simple reasons like census and so on. “Almost half of the women prisoners staying in men’s prisons and there are no open spaces for the common use of women like male prisoners. Women prisoners are not able to use sports field, library, workshops, and communal areas for the activities in these prisons.

“In a report published for the first 6 months of the 2017 by the İHD Diyarbakır Branch, it is seen that the torture in prison under the OHAL has become widespread and systematic,” read the report and added that “The limited information, taken through the letters sent by the women prisoners, the stories shared by the families and the lawyers, their legal complaints has showed that rights violations such as ostracism, barring from health, education, communication services, strip search and physical violence, handcuffed treatment, sexual harassment and torture during referrals were determined. Especially in the wards where women imprisoned for political reasons, prisoners’ rights stem form being women were extorted such as conscientious, moral, legal rights and accordingly they were exposed to ill treatments.”


Saying that the government punishes the prisoners extra by preventing access to basic needs of prisons, the report stated that “Lack of sufficient beds is a crucial problem. In Diyarbakır and Tarsus prisons, the use of clean drinking water is inhibited during the summer season when the temperature is 54 celsius degrees. Also in the winter, hot water is not given to the bathroom, or it is given at very short intervals. Personal care and hygiene items bought from prison canteens are also being confiscated during the ward searches which have been made 2-3 times a week. Monitoring by male prison guardians with the cameras placed in living areas such as wards, bathrooms and toilets has become tools of physical and sexual repression for women prisoners.”

The report has also underlined that the complaints submitted to officials over violence, threats, rape etc. by the male wardens the authorities play a conciliatory role instead of writing minutes, giving protection order or placing them in a safer prison and send them back to the prisons where they were violated.

The report has also stated that prisoners’ transfers from the prison in their hometown to a distant city have turned into a systematic method of torture. It was pointed out that “It is a systematic practice of punishment and isolation especially in Kurdish provinces to send the prisoners from their hometowns where their families live to the prisons in the distant cities.”

The report has also underlined that women prisoners’ rights to access health services has been transformed into a tool of oppression and torture by prison administrations. It was stated that “Like access to justice it is also more difficult to access health facilities. Gender-dependent special health needs of female prisoners are also ignored in the existing penal execution system. One of the most frequent complaints of women prisoners is that the male security staff and gendarmes do not leave the examination room on the grounds of security during doctor examinations, including gynecological examinations. This practice prevents particularly abuse, torture and rape attacks to be documented during health checks. The use of handcuffs during the health examinations is also a common practice. Writing the names of the organisations on which the prisoners are being judged on the health files causes discrimination during the examination.”


By drawing attention to the health situation of patient prisoners, the report stated that “The health conditions of patient prisoners, whose treatments were precluded on the grounds of OHAL, are getting worse day by day. 72 of these patient prisoners are females. The rate of terminal diseases such as heart and cancer is around 15 percent. And many people have been abandoned to die in prisons where treatment is impossible.”

The report has also analysed the implementation of single type uniform in prisons and stated that “As a means of political violence, single type of uniform implementation is an extension of the isolation policy. With the single type uniform, isolating the prisoners from the society is a self sealing tool according to society and the person itself.”

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  1. […] Les militants politiques et les intellectuels récalcitrants à la censure se rappellent, à cette occasion de la Journée internationale des Droits de la femme, que beaucoup de femmes dans ce pays musulman sont privées de leur liberté dans les camps pénitentiaires turcs. Des rapports relatent les violations des droits des femmes détenues :  les prisons turques  sont transformées en «camp de tortures des prisonniers». […]

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