Women from all walks of life and in all regions of the world suffer human rights violations such as torture, killing, rape and unjust imprisonment, Amnesty International says.
Citing more than 100 incidents in more than 40 countries, the London-based human rights organization charged that regardless of age or class, women were routinely victims of human rights abuses. The 55-page report, prepared for release on International Women's Day Friday, was Amnesty's first major summary of the abuses against women by police, soldiers and other officials worldwide.The countries accused of violating women's rights in varying degrees included Syria, Senegal, China, Colombia, Israel, Peru, Haiti, Somalia, India, Iran and Britain.
"It is not a comprehensive account of human rights violations against women, merely an indication of the type of atrocities women have suffered," Amnesty said. "The violations have occurred, and continue to occur, in every region of the world and under every system of government."
Women are targeted for abuse because they are politically active, easily frightened and often will do anything to protect their families, Amnesty said.
"Women are becoming increasingly active and more vocal, so they are increasingly targets of aggression," Amnesty spokeswoman Anita Tiessen said.
The report said officials commonly torture and intimidate women detainees by raping them or threatening them with sexual assault.
"It is both a physical violation and injury, and an assault on a woman's mental and emotional well-being," it said.
The abuses take place in interrogation cells, prison cells, back alleys, isolated rural sites or in the presence of a woman's family or neighbors.
"By subjecting women in their custody to sexual abuse, government agents may seek to intimidate entire sectors of the population," Amnesty said.
The human rights group said women refugees separated from families and familiar cultural surroundings were especially vulnerable. Rape, abduction, sexual harassment, physical violence and an obligation to exchange sexual favors for documentation or relief goods were common, it said.
As an example of such treatment, Amnesty gave details of Maria Juana Medina's detention in El Salvador in September 1989. Medina, whose daughter had disappeared in August 1989, was arrested while protesting the detentions and abductions of trade unionists, Amnesty said.
Medina said she was beaten, interrogated and raped.