Inga Abramova v. Belarus: Treatment of women in detention violated CEDAW
The case of Inga Abramova v. Belarus was the first complaint filed from the Commonwealth of Independent States to be considered by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee).
In 2007, Abramova was detained under administrative arrest for political activism. Abramova claimed that she faced humiliating treatment. All staff working in the temporary holding facility were men. She was subjected to a body search by a male guard who touched her inappropriately and threatened to strip her naked.1
After exhausting domestic remedies, Abramova submitted a communication to the CEDAW Committee. Abramova stated that she had been detained in poor unhygienic conditions and was sexually harassed.2
The CEDAW Committee found that the treatment of Inga Abramova constituted discrimination and sexual harassment, in violation of articles 2(a)-2(b), 2(e)-2(f), 3 and 5(a) of CEDAW. The Committee also pointed out that women prisoners should be attended and supervised only by women officers, under Rule 53 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules.
In its recommendations, the CEDAW Committee called on Belarus to provide appropriate retaliation, including compensation, to Inga Abramova.
Following the decision of the Committee in favor of the complainant, the local detention center hired female employees.3