As Ukraine struggles for freedom, Belarusian women in prisons struggle for the right to take a shower, to receive hygiene products and medical care. After the 2020 elections, 346 Belarusian women remain the subjects of criminal proceedings. Olga Karach believes that the plight of women prisoners in today’s Belarus needs more attention. After all, Belarusian women in prison are regularly subjected to exploitation, ill-treatment and deportation.
In her speech, Olga Karach drew attention to the slave labour of women prisoners: “Belarusians in prison are forced into hard, low-paid and free labour. When they pay all the costs and court fees, they are left with less than 10 euros a month. Women suffer from physical and psychological torture, they get threats of physical and sexual violence. Women with mental health problems are particularly vulnerable”.
Women prisoners do not receive essential hygiene supplies, such as pads, Olga Karach told the UN Human Rights Council. They also do not have access to medicines, such as painkillers, which can sometimes make life easier with painful menstruation. They are also unable to take regular showers.
The situation is even worse for those women who end up in psychiatric hospitals and become victims of punitive psychiatry. They are drugged and tortured against their will. In her speech, Olga Karach noted that several foreign women had been forcibly removed from Belarus after their participation in the 2020 protests. In particular, members of the Polish minority in our country were deported and lost their homes.
At the end of the report, Olga Karach asked the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus to continue advocating for the rights of imprisoned women activists. We also hope that this work will continue because what is happening in today’s Belarus can’t be called legal and right. It is a real genocide and extermination of women, which must end.