Abuse of Imprisoned Women in Japan

The 76-page report, “‘They Don’t Treat Us like Human Beings’: Abuse of Imprisoned Women in Japan,” documents the abusive conditions in many women’s prisons in Japan. Government policies towards women in prison violate international human rights conventions and contravene international standards such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules of the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Mandela Rules. Prison authorities use restraints on imprisoned pregnant women, arbitrarily employ solitary confinement as a form of punishment, verbally abuse women in prison, deny incarcerated women’s opportunities to parent their child in prison, and fail to provide adequate access to health and mental health care.

A sign in Japanese reads "check door lock" on a gate inside Tochigi prison


  • June 27, 2023

    South Africa Compounds Legacy of Apartheid for Older People

    The 68-page report, “‘This Government is Failing Me Too’: South Africa Compounds Legacy of Apartheid for Older People,” details the government’s failure to effectively carry out the Older Persons Act, a post-apartheid law that guarantees the rights of older people and provides for community- and home-based care and support services. These services would enable older people to continue to live in their own homes with the support they are entitled to.

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  • February 23, 2022

    Abuses Against Older People in Armed Conflict

    The 49-page report, “No One Is Spared: Abuses against Older People in Armed Conflict,” describes patterns of abuses documented by Human Rights Watch between 2013 and 2021 against older people affected by armed conflicts in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mali, Mozambique, Nagorno-Karabakh, Niger, South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine. The report also draws on the serious protracted violence in two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Myanmar security force atrocities against older ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State, and the experiences of older refugees in Lebanon displaced by conflict in Syria.

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  • October 15, 2019

    How Aged Care Facilities in Australia Chemically Restrain Older People with Dementia

    This report found that instead of providing support to older people with dementia, facilities use drugs to control their behavior, a practice known as chemical restraint. Many of the drugs used to control people in aged care facilities are antipsychotics that are not approved in Australia for older people with dementia. In addition to the physical, social, and emotional harm for older people restrained with these drugs, the use of these drugs in older people with dementia is also associated with an increased risk of death.

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  • January 9, 2019

    Improper Social Care Assessments for Older People in England

    For this report, Human Rights Watch spoke with older people and their relatives in 12 cities and towns across England. Some said that assessors appeared not to understand their disabilities and support needs. In other cases, before beginning an assessment, assessors announced that services would be cut regardless of an individual’s actual need. In some cases, services were denied or cut significantly, affecting older people’s health and wellbeing.

  • November 29, 2018

    Alabama’s Failure to Prevent Cervical Cancer Death in the Black Belt

    This report documents how state and federal policies contribute to a treacherous reproductive health environment in Alabama, where women are dying from cervical cancer at rates higher than in any other US state. The report presents the experiences of women mostly from the Alabama Black Belt, a largely rural region of Alabama that is primarily African American and has high rates of poverty and poor physical health. Human Rights Watch found that governments are not doing enough to facilitate access to reproductive health care services and provide information to prevent these deaths.

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  • August 5, 2018

    The Plight of Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar

    This report is based on a May 2018 visit to Cox’s Bazar. Human Rights Watch found that the mega camp is severely overcrowded. The average usable space is 10.7 square meters per person, compared with the recommended international standard of 45 square meters per person. Densely packed refugees are at heightened risk of communicable diseases, fires, community tensions, and domestic and sexual violence. Bangladeshi authorities should relocate Rohingya refugees to smaller, less densely packed camps on flatter, accessible, nearby land within the same Ukhiya subdistrict where the mega camp is located, Human Rights Watch said.

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  • February 5, 2018

    How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia

    This report estimates that every week in US nursing facilities, more than 179,000 people, mostly older and living with dementia, are given antipsychotic drugs without an appropriate diagnosis. Facilities administer these drugs in many cases without obtaining informed consent from residents or their families. 

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    Cover of the US nursing homes report
  • January 24, 2017

    Violations of Property and Inheritance Rights of Widows in Zimbabwe

    This report found that in-laws often tell women shortly after the deaths of their husbands that the relatives intend to take over the homes and lands or other property where the husband and wife had lived for decades. One widow quoted her brother-in-law’s words to her after her husband’s funeral, in front of the family that had gathered: “He said in my face, ‘You are rubbish and you will get nothing. I am taking everything.’”

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    Cover of the Zimbabwe report
  • January 27, 2012

    The Aging Prison Population in the United States

    <p>This report includes new data Human Rights Watch developed from a variety of federal and state sources that document dramatic increases in the number of older US prisoners.</p>

  • July 14, 2011

    Health, Hard Labor, and Abuse in Ugandan Prisons

    This 80-page report documents routine physical abuse and the failure of the criminal justice system to protect the rights of prisoners. Prisoners at rural prisons, including the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and pregnant women, are frequently caned, or are even stoned, handcuffed to a tree, or burned, when they refuse to perform hard labor.