De Lima bill seeks protection of female inmates

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 14 2017 02:50 PM

A policewoman guards Philippine Senator Leila De Lima as she gestures a sign that means "laban" (fight) after appearing at a court on drug related charges in Muntinlupa, February 24, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA - Senator Leila de Lima last week filed a bill seeking the protection of women in state detention facilities.

De Lima, who is detained herself for drug charges she has repeatedly denied, claimed that female inmates are often abused by security personnel in the form of "rape, inappropriate sexual touching, beatings, excessive pat-downs and strip searches, and the use of sexualized language."

Citing a 2001 Commission on Human Rights (CHR) report, De Lima added that 10 percent of female inmates had sexual contact with their jailers prior to their transfer to the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW).

"Even more worrisome is that these abuses remain unreported because of widespread fear of retaliation by the perpetrators, aggravated by the lack of strict and concrete grievance or investigatory procedures, which gives the detention/prison
officers and employees impunity to continuously perform such abuses," she said.

De Lima's Senate Bill 1438, entitled "An Act Protecting Women in State Custody," tasks the government to "exert efforts to address all forms of abuse committed against women in state custody."

The bill recommended the creation of a registration book for female inmates and separate cells and facilities for women and men.

It also bans the torture and sexual abuse of detained or imprisoned women, as well as the entry of male personnel in their quarters.

In her bill, De Lima also pushed for a mandatory inspection of all jail facilities by CHR, the additional recruitment of female detention offices, and the investigation of alleged abuses.

Those who violate the law may penalized with six months up to six years of jail time.

The whole bill may be read here.