16 women’s rights groups demand end to forced pelvic exams in prison

Leading women's rights advocacy groups in Thailand are urging the authorities to stop forcing pelvic examinations on female detainees.

16 women’s rights organisations, including the Friends of Women Foundation, the Women's Movement in Thai Political Reform (WeMove), the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies of Mahidol University and the Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice, on Friday, 13 May 2016, submitted a joint statement to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, and Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, the Minister of Justice.

In the letter, the group urged the authorities to order the Department of Corrections (DC) to strictly comply with international standards in performing examinations on female detainees.

The group demanded that the examination procedures must be carried out by medical experts and in a manner which respects human dignity and rights.

The statement reflected the recent public outcry over the harassment of Kornkanok Khumta, a student activist of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) from Thammasat University, who was sent to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution (CWCI) in Bangkok last month by the Military Court for participating in an activity to demand an investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the construction of the military’s Rajabhakti Park.

Once at the CWCI, Kornkanok was forced to take off all her clothes in front of many people and to undergo a pelvic examination before she was released on bail which had already been granted by the court.

“I felt like I was an animal or something. The prison staff knew then that I was granted bail, but they didn’t tell me,” Kornkanok wrote on her Facebook account after she was released on 26 April.

The 16 women’s rights organisations concluded that this kind of incident should not happen to any female detainee, saying that prison staff should comply with the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (The Bangkok Rules), which Thailand has ratified, which provide elaborate details on standardised physical examination procedures and search methods for females detainees.


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