UN condemns Chechen women abuse

The United Nations has voiced concern at reports of arbitrary detention and torture of women in Chechnya.

    The conflict has shattered the lives of many Chechen women

    Yakin Erturk, UN special rapporteur on violence

    against women, spoke out on the issue after a recent visit to the republic.

    "I heard first-hand accounts of women being arbitrarily detained

    and tortured following targeted operations [by the Russian special

    forces]," she said.

    "This is said to be in response to women's involvement in

    terrorist attacks, particularly as suicide bombers."

    Two women were among a team that seized a school in

    North Ossetia in September resulting in 344 deaths, and many

    bombings over the past few years have been committed by

    so-called black widows seeking to avenge their dead husbands, sons

    or brothers.

    Chechen conflict

    "In the absence of the rule of law, the civilian population

    suffers abuse by security forces and Chechen armed groups, leaving a

    climate of fear and insecurity," Erturk said.

    After the first armed conflict in Chechnya in 1994-1996, Moscow

    again poured troops into the rebellious republic in October 1999,

    quickly getting mired in a brutal guerrilla confrontation with various

    rebel leaders.

    "In the absence of the rule of law, the civilian population

    suffers abuse by security forces and Chechen armed groups, leaving a

    climate of fear and insecurity"

    Yakin Erturk,
    UN Special Rapporteur on Violence

    against Women

    Meanwhile, a communique issued from UN headquarters in Geneva

    quoted Erturk as calling on Russia to ensure that laws and practices

    aimed at curbing "terrorism" conform to international human rights

    norms.

    Erturk was reporting on a fact-finding mission

    during which she collected evidence from victims

    of human-rights violations, including relatives of missing persons

    and displaced persons in Chechnya and

    Ingushetia.

    On the general theme of treatment of women in Russia, the UN

    official's report also called on the Russian government to protect

    women better from domestic violence.

    Domestic violence

    The overall situation of Russian women has improved over the p

    ast decade, she said, noting that the Russian Federation had

    undertaken administrative and legislative changes contributing to

    improving matters.

    Russia has been condemned for
    widespread abuses in Chechnya

    Violence against women and sexual discrimination

    nevertheless remain only secondary themes on the political agenda.

    A bill on domestic violence submitted to the Duma (lower house)

    has not been passed, and a women's commission set up to promote sex e

    quality in public policy and programmes was abolished

    this

    year.

    Violence, particularly domestic violence, continues to cause

    damage and threaten the lives of thousands of women every year, Etruk

    said.

    Because of lack of resources, many women were forced to continue

    sharing an apartment with a violent partner even after a divorce.

    SOURCE: AFP


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