Justice Denied: Women victims of torture face a lifetime of suffering

“Whether perpetrated in conflict or in peace, the root causes of violence against women [are] deep-seated inequalities and discrimination”

Women survivors of torture are being denied justice due to failures in countries around the world to uphold their human rights and to respond to their rehabilitation needs, according to new research by the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (MF). In a new report ‘Justice Denied’, released during 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, the MF calls for urgent action by governments to respond to how women are being targeted for torture in societies rife with violence against women. In calling for change, Justice Denied highlights the need for greater support for women torture survivors in their efforts to rebuild their lives and seek redress.Meryem, a survivor who sought the help of the MF after fleeing Turkey, had endured years of abuse living in a society where women are victims of discrimination and where violence against women was the norm and access to justice a remote prospect. She was tortured by the police, raped countless times in detention.

Justice Denied examines the experiences of more than 100 women like Meryem, from 24 countries, who were forced to seek refuge in the UK because of continued failures in their own countries to protect their rights and to provide access to healthcare and legal redress.

The MF found that almost every woman had suffered if not one then several incidents of rape and sexual assault. In an overwhelming number of cases, women were unable to access any support, were largely dismissed by the authorities when they did seek help, and in some cases rejected by their communities and families.

“Women continue to be targeted for torture,” says Leanne MacMillan, Director of Policy & External Affairs. “They are then hampered in their pursuit of redress and even access to basic healthcare in societies where underlying and pervasive gender inequalities and disparities persist. Denying them access to justice and rehabilitation perpetuates a climate in which torturers are able to act with impunity.

“The effective pursuit of justice is essential for both the prevention of future acts of torture and the recovery of the individual survivor.

“A more robust and gender-sensitive approach to reparations, which situates the individual within the context of their community, tackles legislative, cultural and societal inequalities and attitudes is essential if the cycle of violence is to be broken. Without such an approach, women survivors of torture will fail to achieve true justice and perpetrators will continue to enjoy impunity.”

Message from: the Medical Foundation

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