Uruguayan women take to the IACHR their 2011 case for sexual abuse and humiliation they endured as political prisoners

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Leftist female political prisoners were always kept hooded and submitted to gropings, forced nudity, sexual abuse of all types, rapes, etc., by members of Uruguay’s 1973–1985 military dictatorship, said the attorney for 28 women who presented their case Thursday to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IACHR. It wasn’t easy for them to come forward, he said.

The women first came forward 10 years ago and 2 have already died, but their attorney said the investigations have gone nowhere and thus the decision to raise the case to a higher international tribunal. Their complaint identifies more than 100 former regime officials, doctors, psychologists, and security forces members, some of whom could only be identified by their aliases and voices, explained the attorney.

“In Uruguay, sexual violence was a weapon of war used by the state to humiliate and punish political prisoners,” Maria Noel Leoni of the Center for Justice and International Law told the online IACHR hearing.

Rapes, sexual humiliation, torture, killings, enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations were reportedly committed by the 12-year dictatorship imposed after a 1973 US-backed coup. The doctors charged were present during the tortures, controlling to make sure they did “not overdo it,” and “advising,” explained the women’s attorney. “It was “very sadistic.”

“At this stage of the game, many of the women had lost hope that anything could be done,” said the attorney. “Now we have some expectations.”

By Milan Sime Martinic