NEWS RELEASE: WOMEN’S RIGHTS GROUP SLAMS BJMP STRIP SEARCH POLICY AS FORM OF HUMILIATION AND HOMOPHOBIA

PRESS RELEASE

July 21, 2011

Reference:      Cristina Palabay, Tanggol Bayi Spokesperson (09175003879)

WOMEN’S RIGHTS GROUP SLAMS BJMP STRIP SEARCH POLICY AS FORM OF HUMILIATION AND HOMOPHOBIA

“In the first place, the continuing policy of strip search in detention centers and jail facilities, where male and female jail visitors are required to undress, including their undergarments, is a form of humiliation and violence. The policy deliberately promotes discrimination and homophobia against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender jail guards to justify these strip searches.”

Thus said Cristina Palabay, convenor of Tanggol Bayi, an organization of women human rights defenders in the country on news reports citing the policy of strip search practiced by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Palabay said, contrary to the statement of BJMP Director Rosendo Dial, visitors and prisoners themselves have raised issues against this policy.

“Visitors of political prisoners and regular inmates have experienced trauma and psychological abuse, which are sexual in nature, in instances of their visits to their detained relatives and friends. Furthermore, their refusal to be subjected to such searches denies them of entry and their visitation rights,” she commented.

Palabay also said that US courts have already condemned the psychological effect of such searches, with the US 6th Circuit court noting that “a strip search, regardless of how professionally and courteously conducted, is an embarrassing and humiliating experience.”

Tanggol Bayi and human rights organizations are calling for the immediate scrapping of the said policy as such acts are meant to humiliate the visitors and detainees and deprive them of their visitation rights as enshrined in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

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About Tanggol Bayi

Established in 2008, Tanggol Bayi is an association of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the Philippines. It is formed primarily for the recognition, advancement, and protection of the rights of women human rights defenders who are advocating for the realization of human rights.
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