Optional Protocol to the
Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment
18 January 2016
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment
Prevention of torture and ill-treatment of women deprived of
The present document is being issued pursuant to the mandate of the
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture as set out in article 11 of the Optional
Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment.
The Subcommittee has a number of years of experience in conducting visits to
places of deprivation of liberty in States parties to the Optional Protocol in different
regions of the world. It is undoubtedly an added advantage for a human rights treaty
body to be able to carry out field missions and collect first-hand information through
observation, individual and group interviews, and working meetings with the
authorities and civil society organizations on the situation of persons deprived of their
liberty and, on the basis of its analysis of this information, draft a visit report
containing specific, contextualized recommendations on the prevention of torture and
ill-treatment in the countries that it has visited.
In the course of this work, the Subcommittee has encountered specific situations
involving persons deprived of their liberty who belong to groups that have historically
been discriminated against, including women.
It should be acknowledged that, while torture has been a subject of great concern
in international human rights law and the work of the human rights treaty bodies, the
gender-specific aspect of torture has not been discussed in sufficient depth. As a
result, the particular risks of torture or ill-treatment faced by women deprived of their
liberty have received limited attention to date. 1
The Subcommittee is aware that the torture and ill-treatment of women occur in
a variety of situations, not only in prisons or other places of deprivation of liberty.
The general causes of torture and ill-treatment include society’s tolerance and
acceptance of violence as a means of “resolving” conflicts and the formation of
hierarchical power relations whereby certain groups of persons, such as women, are
scorned, undervalued, ignored, demonized or dehumanized. The mediate causes
* Document approved by the Subcommittee at its twenty-seventh session (16-20 November 2015).
Association for the Prevention of Torture and Penal Reform International, Women in Detention: A
Guide to Gender-Sensitive Monitoring, London, 2013, p. 5.