"Clear link" between criminalization of minorities and abuse, says rights expert

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Criminalized minorities still have a right to state protection, Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez said. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The discrimination and abuse of women, girls and other minorities should be seen for what it is: torture, a UN human rights expert said Wednesday.

Juan Mendez, who's the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, said that the suffering of women and girls, along with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people continues to be regarded as nothing more than ill-treatment in many countries.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

In his fifth and final report to the Human Rights Council, Juan Mendez addresses the failure of international law to protect women, girls and other minorities from torture and other cruel acts.

The abuse is particularly clear towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

"There are at least 76 countries in the world that have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships between adults, even in private. We think there's a clear link between the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and the violence and stigma that these groups face."

Speaking in Geneva, the rights expert said that discrimination based on people's gender is present "in every culture and every society".

And he said that even if states refuse to decriminalize certain sections of society, they still have a legal responsibility to protect them.

The report identifies many more forms of abuse faced by minorities: prison-based violence, rape, honour killings and discrimination over abortion.

Forced under-age marriage is also in the spotlight – an issue that affects almost one billion women alive today, 250 million of whom were married before they were 15.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 0'55"


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