UN Women’s Rights Committee releases findings on Armenia, Belgium, Finland, Gambia, Honduras, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Switzerland and Ukraine

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The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) today released its findings on Armenia, Belgium, Finland, Gambia, Honduras, Saint Kitts and -Nevis, Switzerland and Ukraine, the States parties that it examined at its last session.

The conclusions contain the positive aspects of each country’s implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as the main concerns and recommendations of the Committee. Some of the key issues include:

Armenia

Displaced women and girls in conflict-affected areas are at greater risk of sexual violence, exploitation and poverty in Armenia. The Committee calls for durable solutions to guarantee their rights. The Committee is also concerned about the lack of progress in removing the list of work considered hazardous for women, minors and persons with disabilities. It urges Armenia to remove this list of discouraged occupations restricting women’s access to certain professions, to facilitate women’s access to these professions and to refocus its employment policies on gender equality.

Belgium

The eligibility criteria for legal aid have been severely restricted and the process of accessing legal aid has become more complex, despite changes to the Judicial Code in Belgium. The Committee recommends that legal aid and public defense be made accessible, sustainable and adapted to the needs of women. The Committee is concerned that despite the legislation and measures in place, there are still practices that are harmful to women and girls, such as child and/or forced marriage, forced sterilization of women and girls with disabilities and invasive and irreversible medical interventions aimed at gendering children. It recommends that Belgium train the police in the strict application of legislation prohibiting child and/or forced marriage and raise awareness of its criminal nature.

Finland

The Committee urges Finland to take immediate steps to repeal the legislation which allows the sterilization of mentally handicapped women. Further, CEDAW calls for effective remedies to be provided to women who have been subjected to forced or involuntary sterilization. The Committee notes that mediation in cases of intimate partner violence is increasingly used and calls on Finland to prioritize prosecutions over mediation in cases of intimate partner violence and domestic violence, and to ensure that recourse to mediation does not result in the termination of criminal proceedings. investigation and prosecution of these cases.

The Gambia

Large numbers of girls are out of school, a situation exacerbated by child marriage and a high rate of illiteracy among women and girls in The Gambia. Child marriage was banned in 2016, but there have been no prosecutions. The Committee urges The Gambia to raise awareness of the harmful effects and criminal nature of child marriage; develop child-friendly, confidential and secure mechanisms for reporting cases; and provide mandatory capacity building for religious leaders, law enforcement, social and health workers, to ensure victims have access to support services and perpetrators are punished. The Committee also calls on The Gambia to challenge attitudes that prevent rural women from inheriting land and uphold its commitment to achieve the African Union target of allocating 30% of land to women by 2025.

Honduras

The Committee expresses concern about gender-based violence, including sexual violence, and notes that Honduras recorded the highest rate of femicide in Latin America in 2019. It urges Honduras to amend the Penal Code in order to increase penalties for femicide based on the seriousness of the crime and to take other measures to protect women and girls. The Committee notes that maternal mortality has decreased. However, he is concerned about the criminalization of abortion and other restrictions on bodily autonomy and women’s sexual and reproductive health rights. The Committee reiterates its call for the decriminalization of abortion, the distribution of emergency contraceptives, access to HIV/AIDS drugs and the strengthening of initiatives to ensure that adolescents have access to education on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

The Penal Code of Saint Kitts and Nevis does not criminalize gender-based violence against women. The Committee recommends that Saint Kitts and Nevis amend the Penal Code and relevant legislation to criminalize all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls, including physical, psychological, sexual, economic, domestic and marital, sexual violence against children and sexual violence. harassment. It is concerned at the absence of any official policy or program to protect the rights of rural women and recommends the adoption of a program for the development of rural women, the training of rural women in agricultural practices and the provision of infrastructure to them. and support needed.

Swiss

The Committee notes that the current proposal to revise and strengthen the legislation criminalizing rape does not define rape based on the absence of consent, in accordance with international standards. The articles of the Penal Code punishing sexual offenses less serious than rape allow the judge to consider a reduced sentence or a complete acquittal if the perpetrator is married or in a registered partnership with the victim, even if the victim is a child. The Committee urges Switzerland to amend its Penal Code. It also calls for legal provisions to allow all women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence and whose residence status is linked to their husband to leave their violent spouse without losing their residence status.

Ukraine

Since the start of the Russian Federation’s military aggression, Ukraine has faced a dire situation of conflict-related violence, including sexual and gender-based violence. The Committee notes that Ukraine has taken steps to protect civilians, including women and girls, from hostilities. For example, he notes the establishment of mobile clinics by health professionals trained to recognize gender-based violence. However, he is concerned about the rise of sexual violence against women and girls in conflict areas. The Committee also notes the under-reporting of sexual violence due to stigma and fear of reprisals, as well as the limited number of investigations into conflict-related sexual violence. It recommends that Ukraine prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of sexual violence and other forms of conflict-related gender-based violence against women and girls and collect evidence in such cases. cases, in cooperation with civil society organizations and international investigative bodies, including for prosecutions before international courts. For the implementation of the Committee’s concluding observations, the Committee recommends that Ukraine seek international assistance as needed, including technical assistance from the Committee.

The above conclusions, officially called Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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