Monday, March 05, 2007

Memoir: Horrific Condition of Women Prisoners in Evin Prison

Prisoners of "love"Evin

Evin is a Kurdish female name, meaning "love"

March 5,

Part (1) (2) (3) (4)

Women prisoners were treated brutally and their abysmal living conditions were in violation of their Human Rights. If one prisoner committed an offence such as starting a fight inside a ward, the prison guards would punish all prisoners of that ward by depriving them of something significant such as telephone calls or visitations - the social workers simply turning a blind eye to this practice. Excessive amount of camphor was poured into prisoners’ meals and drinks – breakfast and lunch and supper, even into their bread and tea – in order to supposedly suppress their sexual drives. Too much camphor was causing side-effects such as swollen eyelids and faces, hoarse and choked voices, appearance of spots on hands and arms in women. During interviews, prisoners’ voices were hoarse and choked, and they spoke with great difficulty. Some of the inmates believed that adding camphor to their meals was good for them because it soothed them and made them numb and lethargic, helping them not to think of anything. However, we could hear from behind the wards’ doors the sound of brawls and exchange of obscene curses among inmates. Scuffling was a normal occurrence and prisoners witnessed several brawls breaking out everyday.

Inmates' nerves and emotions were played with by the staff. In fact, they were often mentally and sometimes physically tortured. For instance, every time a prisoner received a flogging with iron wire (Aatashi) in the prison office, they put loud-speakers in the four communal wards and the prisoners had no choice but to hear the woman’s screams and wailing, which made them all cry and prevented them from being able to have appetite for lunch or supper. The whippings happened in the morning or before supper. It was possible to buy the flogging in the prison. Ordinary flogging (Ta’ziri) cost 500 toumans per stroke; and severe flogging with iron wire (Aatashi) could be bought with 1000 toumans per stroke. However, most inmates were poor and could not afford buying their torture. Zahra, a 43 year-old illiterate woman from Kermanshah and mother of 6 children, who had moved to Bandar-Abbas with her second husband to sell two of her small children to a Dubai sheik, claimed that she was tortured in Evin: she was hung upside-down, her nails were pulled, and all her teeth were broken.

The bad quality of food and water routinely served had caused many prisoners to suffer from digestive disorders. The tap water was coming from a village well and had not gone through the purification process as the water of Greater Tehran. Monotony and lack of nutritional value of food had caused mal-nourishment among babies and children; and the unsanitary conditions were responsible for their many types of infections. Women prisoners did not have fruit as part of their meals, unless they worked for it or were rich. Mothers’ ration consisted of one can of dry milk per week for babies; but it was not enough. Rich mothers were able to buy more milk to compensate. Moreover, there was no nursery in the wards.

Prison officials were negligent about the inmates’ health. There was a lack of sufficient medicine in prison, and it was difficult for the prisoners to succeed in getting permission to go to the infirmary. The medicine had to be taken in front of the officials because in some cases it had been sold to other inmates. Rouhi, a 23 year-old prisoner carrying a huge goitre had spent one year in solitary confinement for fighting with other inmates, which was the result of her illness. She had been taken to a hospital for operation and while waiting, the Evin Pasdars in charge of her guard forced her to return to Evin because, they said, there was not enough staff!...more

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