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De Lima pushes bill to protect fellow female inmates

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Sen. Leila de Lima has filed a bill seeking to protect fellow female detainees from sexual and physical abuses in jail.

De Lima, herself in detention over drug-related charges, filed Senate Bill 1438 or the Women in State Custody Act of 2017, which provides ways to protect female inmates, including keeping them separate from their male counterparts “at all times.”

The bill also seeks to provide female security personnel during interrogation of women detainees, and allow them to “communicate freely and in full confidentiality” with those who visit and inspect their places of detention.

It also provides that a female security personnel must be present during interrogation.

It also aims to allow females in prison to file complaints over violation of rights, whether through her legal counsel or relatives.

The bill also prohibits contact between male security personnel and female detainees and prisoners, “unless done in the presence of female security,” and for men to stay in the female premises at nighttime.

De Lima noted the abuses women undergo in prison, citing data from the 2001 Human Rights Advisory of the Commission on Human Rights, which says 10 percent of women inmates at the Correctional Institute for Women admitted to experiencing sexual contact with their jailers prior to their transfer there.

She also pointed out an “imbalance of power” in jails, where inmates must endure physical abuse, directly or indirectly, because of their “total dependence on officers for basic necessities and the latter’s ability to withhold privileges.”

“The abuses, including rape, inappropriate sexual touching, beatings, excessive pat-downs and strip searches, and the use of sexualized language, is a crude example of the power imbalance between security personnel and women inmates,” she said.

“Because of the inherent balance of power between women inmates and their custodians, females in jails and correctional facilities are faced with an even worse punishment of being subjected to different forms of abuses,” she added.

Recent data from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology also showed that there are only 58 female dormitories under the BJMP throughout the country, and the three populous regions do not even have a single female dormitory. —Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/ALG, GMA News

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