In 2007, Inga Abramova from Belarus was arrested as she was hanging ribbons to raise awareness of the ‘European March’ campaign and detained for five days for ‘minor hooliganism.’ Inga was held underground in a poorly lit and cold cell in a facility staffed exclusively by male guards. The guards made frequent comments about Inga ‘joking’ that she would be ‘taken outside and shot’ and during a search, one of the guards poked her buttock with his finger, made humiliating comments and threatened to strip search her.
Following her release, Inga sought justice, but after having no success in Belarus, she looked to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), submitting a communication, under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Optional Protocol).
The Committee found that Belarus had failed to meet its obligations, as Inga had been subject to sexual harassment and discrimination whilst in detention. The Committee also recalled that the fact detention facilities do not cater for the needs of women constitutes discrimination under CEDAW, and made reference to the UN Bangkok Rules.
PRI’s Programme Officer Olivia Rope has written a great blog post for the website of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (OP-CEDAW) reflecting on Inga’s case and on how the CEDAW Committee can continue to use the UN Bangkok Rules in their work to protect the rights of women offenders.
Read Olivia’s post in full here