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Uzbek Woman Tells Of Sisters' Alleged Rapes In Prison

TASHKENT -- An Uzbek woman has given details of her experience in prison during which she alleges she and her two sisters were beaten and gang-raped, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Khosiyat Soatova, 23, the youngest of the sisters, told RFE/RL that she and her two sisters were detained in Tashkent on May 9 during a domestic dispute.

She said that the next day, her sister Raykhon, 28, was gang-raped by policemen in the Tashkent prison. Khosiyat said Raykhon was beaten unconscious by police in a prison basement before being raped. Raykhon was reportedly threatened that her sisters would also be raped if she spoke about the abuse.

Khosiyat said she has no specific information about her other sister, Nargiza. But Abdusamat Soatov, the sisters' brother, said in mid-December that all three sisters had reported being abused and raped in prison.

In December, Raykhon gave birth in a prison hospital to a premature baby girl who she said is the result of the sexual assaults.

Khosiyat said that she was beaten, sexually abused, and tortured so severely during an interrogation session on May 16 that she was taken to a prison hospital, where she remained for two months.

Khosiyat -- who was sentenced to six years and two months in jail -- was released on bail in the summer after recovering from her injuries.

Her sisters remain in prison. They were all sentenced to between six and seven years in prison on hooliganism and robbery charges after being arrested on May 9 during a dispute with the alleged mistress of Nargiza's husband.

Khosiyat said that in Uzbekistan, laws and justice exist only for wealthy people.

Following RFE/RL's reporting of the sisters' allegations of abuse in jail, the Tashkent prosecutor's office opened a criminal case on charges of attempted sexual assault. The office initially rejected the abuse allegations and refused to investigate the charges.