TASHKENT -- An Uzbek human rights organization is calling for justice after reports of two sisters being gang-raped in jail in Tashkent, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.
Abdurakhmon Tashanov, of the rights organization Ezgulik (Benevolence), told RFE/RL today that Raykhon and Khosiyat Soatova were reportedly raped by policemen after being arrested on May 9 with their older sister, Nargiza.
Tashanov said that there are medical reports and other evidence of violence against the two sisters while they were in custody. He said Raykhon also attempted to commit suicide.
The women's brother, Abdusamat Soatov, told RFE/RL that he and his mother visited the sisters in prison on November 26 and Raykhon told them about the rapes and other mistreatment in jail.
Khosiyat was recently released on bail, but Raykhon -- who is reportedly six months' pregnant as a result of the assault -- is still in prison with her older sister.
The three sisters were arrested during a physical altercation with the alleged mistress of Nargiza's husband. They were sentenced to between six and seven years in prison on hooliganism and robbery charges.
Soatov said the charges against his sisters were trumped up and that his mother witnessed the two younger sisters being arrested by the police.
Raykhon told her brother that she knows the name of an investigator who raped her. She added that Khosiyat had to be treated in a psychiatric clinic after the assaults.
Tashanov said he hopes the case will be further investigated and those responsible charged.
Svetlana Ortiqova, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General's Office, told RFE/RL that she could not comment on the issue before it has been investigated.
She added that Soatov's complaint has not yet been investigated because the office receives about 1,000 complaints daily. Ortiqova said that she noted his name and will inform about the issue later.
Soatov, the sisters' brother, told RFE/RL he has sent nearly 30 complaints to President Islam Karimov's administration and written letters to the Prosecutor-General's Office, the Justice Ministry, and to regional prosecutors, but hasn't received a reply.
Umida Niyazova, the head of the German-Uzbek Forum for Human Rights, told RFE/RL that cases of rape while in custody are common in Uzbekistan.
She said that as a translator for Human Rights Watch from 2004-06 she dealt with numerous court documents and read about rape cases of female prisoners, the wives of prisoners, and of young male prisoners.
Niyazova added that since Uzbek law enforcement is part of a closed system in which no monitors or human rights organizations are allowed access, cases of rape and abuse are commonplace.