Non-Governmental Organizations Brief Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the Situation of Women in Uzbekistan, Peru, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this afternoon heard from representatives of non-governmental organizations on the situation of women’s rights in Uzbekistan, Peru, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic, whose reports will be reviewed this week.
In relation to Uzbekistan, non-governmental organizations spoke about discrimination and violence against lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer girls and women in Uzbekistan; discrimination against women in employment, especially women belonging to ethnic minorities; domestic violence; and housing for women.
Non-governmental organizations speaking on Peru raised concern about the right to sexual and reproductive health for indigenous women and girls; hate crimes against lesbians; the need for visibility for women with disabilities as well as the differentiated impact on the rights of women with disabilities; various forms of violence affecting Afro-Peruvian women; the criminalisation of abortion in Peru; and sexual violence against girls and young people.
On Lebanon, non-governmental organizations called for the need for targeted special measures for women to tackle structural barriers that reinforced discriminatory and gendered norms, practices and policies; violence against women and violence against women in politics; the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of women; the trafficking and exploitation of migrant domestic workers; and the comprehensive law on violence against women and personal status codes in Lebanon.
As for the Dominican Republic, non-governmental organizations said social inequality had a differentiated impact on population groups in the Dominican Republic for reasons of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, or socio-economic status. Other issues raised included double discrimination against women with disabilities; the situation of African-descent women, Dominicans and Haitian migrants; tourism that exposed girls and adolescents to abuse and violence; and the absolute criminalisation of abortion in the country.
Speaking on Uzbekistan were the following non-governmental organizations: Central Asian Gender and Sexuality Advocacy Network and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association-Europe, Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS, Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial, and International Partnership for Human Rights.
The following non-governmental organizations spoke on Peru: Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Defence of Women’s Rights Peru, Lesbian Independent Feminist Socialist Lesbian, Coalition of Organizations Representing Women with Disabilities, Centre for the Development of Black Peruvian Women, Centre for the Promotion and Defence of Sexual and Reproductive Rights, and Centre for Reproductive Rights.
Speaking on Lebanon were the non-governmental organizations: Avenir Liban and Kafa (Enough Violence and Exploitation).
The following non-governmental organizations spoke on the Dominican Republic:
Central Asian Gender and Sexuality Advocacy Network and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Dominican Republic, Coalition of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, MUDHA, Plan International, and Profamilia.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s eighty-first session is being held from 7 to 25 February. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meetings summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/ .
The Committee will next meet in public at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, 15 February to start its consideration of the sixth periodic report of Uzbekistan (CEDAW/C/UZB/6).
Opening Remarks by the Chair
GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Chairperson of the Committee, said representatives of national and international non-governmental organizations were invited to provide information on Uzbekistan, Peru, Lebanon and Dominican Republic, whose reports were being considered this week. This information assisted the Committee in its consideration of reports submitted by States parties.
Discussion with Non-Governmental Organizations on Uzbekistan, Peru, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic
Central Asian Gender and Sexuality Advocacy Network and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association-Europe said although only consensual same-sex conduct between men was explicitly criminalised, lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer women were also affected by this criminalisation. Uzbekistan provided no legal protection to victims of different forms of gender-based violence and domestic violence as well as hate crimes against this population. Uzbekistan should decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts and ensure protection of lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer women from discrimination and violence.
Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS said the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan stipulated responsibility both for exposure to HIV and HIV transmission. This violated human rights. Women experiencing intersecting forms of discrimination were at high risk of unlawful application of the criminal provision on HIV transmission.
Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial noted significant legislative reforms in Uzbekistan after 2016 but was still concerned about discrimination against women in employment. The abolition of the list of prohibited professions turned out to be declarative and had not yet led to employment of women in previously banned positions. The Government should eliminate discrimination of women in employment through legislative and practical measures. Women from ethnic minorities, in particular Mugat or Lyuli women, suffered from multiple discrimination which was typical for Roma and Roma-like communities in Central Asia.
International Partnership for Human Rights noted positive steps to combat domestic violence in Uzbekistan but expressed concern that the Uzbekistani authorities were failing to actively prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence and protect victims. There were persisting societal stigma and stereotypes caused by deep-rooted patriarchal attitudes, and protection gaps led to the lack of effective prosecution. Also, sexual violence was not punished in intimate partnerships. Cases of domestic violence rarely went to court, and penalties were insufficient.
Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Defence of Women’s Rights Peru asked the Committee to recommend to Peru to defend comprehensive sex education for the prevention of sexual violence and forced pregnancy against girls; guarantee intercultural and bilingual education and prevent the exclusion and desertion of indigenous students; guarantee the right to sexual and reproductive health for indigenous women, adolescents and girls with a focus on the rights of indigenous peoples; improve the law on political harassment against women and guarantee public financing for female candidates; and immediately comply with Law 31119 for the comprehensive reparation for indigenous women victims of sexual violence during the internal armed conflict, including victims of forced sterilisations.
Independent Feminist Socialist Lesbians , speaking on behalf of the Coalition for Lesbian Rights, said Peru had not complied with the recommendations of the Committee in 2014 to produce information on lesbians or adopt measures for their access to justice. The State must comply with registering hate crimes against lesbians and incorporate lesbians into its surveys, data and analysis. Lesbians could not be subsumed in the category homosexuality and women. Information on lesbians should be disaggregated by age, rural and urban geographic location, and ethnicity.
Coalition of Organizations Representing Women with Disabilities said historically, women with disabilities had been fighting to be made visible and to highlight the structural discrimination that they suffered. They wished to highlight the high lack of protection and the invisibility of women with disabilities. The pandemic had had a differentiated impact on the rights of women with disabilities because of structural discrimination and certain barriers. Peru had not provided information on the pandemic in accessible format for women with hearing or other disabilities. Other problems included the violation of the principle of free and informed consent for medical treatment for women with disabilities, the prevalence of physical and verbal abuse, and the lack of information on how to file complaints.
Centre for the Development of Black Peruvian Women said Afro-Peruvian women experienced various forms of violence that had daily impacts in their lives and bodies, finding themselves in conditions of both poverty and extreme poverty which had deep and close ties with the structural, systematic racism and racial ethnic discrimination that they faced. The creation of the Directorate of Afro-Peruvian Women in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs would make it possible to narrow the inequality gaps and improve the living conditions of Afro-Peruvians. Afro-descendant women should not only be looked at through a gender lens, but also through an ethnic lens; they should not be seen as a group of disadvantaged women, but as women with equal rights.
Centre for the Promotion and Defence of Sexual and Reproductive Rights recommended that Peru comply with the Committee’s opinion in the case of L.C. to review its legislation to decriminalise abortion when the pregnancy was caused by rape or sexual abuse. Peru should also decriminalise abortion; eliminate barriers to access to therapeutic abortion related to the restrictive interpretation of the health/life exception in the current legal framework; develop a differentiated protocol that guaranteed effective access to therapeutic abortion for girls under 15 years of age; and cease criminal proceedings against women for undergoing abortions and against medical professionals for performing them.
Centre for Reproductive Rights said that the Committee should recommend that Peru include normative and budgetary policies to ensure an end to sexual violence against girls and young people; ensure decriminalisation of abortion; guarantee access to emergency treatment in cases of sexual violence; and implement the provision of contraception to guarantee sexual and reproductive rights.
Avenir Liban said gender gaps remained in all institutions and sectors in Lebanon because of structural barriers that reinforced discriminatory and gendered norms, practices and policies. These structural barriers could only be remedied through specific, targeted measures. Lebanon should set a mandatory 30 per cent quota reserved seats for the upcoming legislative elections in May 2022 and for all elective and appointed positions, and for all executive positions at all levels of Government. Legislation on exonerating women candidates from the “candidacy fees” could be an incentive to women candidates and to political parties to nominate more women. Lebanon did not have a specific legislation that addressed online violence against women and violence against women in politics. The Lebanese Government must amend the discriminatory law and grant Lebanese women equal rights to pass their nationality to their children and foreign spouse.
Kafa (Enough Violence and Exploitation) said the statement covered three topics that had not been duly discussed in Lebanon’s official report namely: the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of women; the trafficking and exploitation of migrant domestic workers; and the comprehensive law on violence against women and personal status codes in Lebanon.
Lebanon needed to repeal all criminal measures that penalised prostituted persons and instead, offer them support. It should address the demand for paid sex and raise awareness on the realities of prostitution and trafficking, and their interlinkages. Moreover, Lebanon must abolish (not reform) the Artist Visa and related regulations. Over 200,000 migrant domestic workers formed the largest female labour force in Lebanon. Lebanon must end the Kafala system, include domestic work under the labour law, and provide labour and social protection to domestic workers. Lebanon must establish a unified civil status code in order to preserve women’s rights. As for the protection of women and girls from all forms of violence, numerous strategies and policies were drawn to address it. However, the level of implementation was almost non-existent.
Central Asian Gender and Sexuality Advocacy Network and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Dominican Republic, said social inequality had a differentiated impact on population groups in the Dominican Republic for reasons of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, or socio-economic status. In rural areas, poverty reached more than 40 per cent of women. The COVID-19 crisis had aggravated the situation, with the decline in the national economy, confinement, and the closure of many social services. The pandemic had particularly affected domestic workers who were already in a vulnerable situation because of non-compliance with the laws. In terms of political participation, in the elections held in 2020, women obtained 24.72 per cent representation in the Chamber of Deputies and only 12.5 per cent in the Senate. Of 27 positions in the Government Cabinet, only 3 were held by women, even though the current Government had committed to promoting gender equality.
Coalition of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities said women with disabilities were doubly discriminated against because of many intersecting factors. Policies and laws in the Dominican Republic were not connected and the statistics did not reflect the reality of persons with disabilities. There was little social investment for persons with disabilities. The legislative agenda on gender and equality was not properly implemented. Discrimination continued to affect women with disabilities. Accessibility was minimal and there was no support in justice. There were major violations of sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities, including forced sterilisation, procedures without consent, and ill-treatment.
MUDHA said that in the last quarter of 2021, hundreds of African-descent women, Dominicans and Haitian migrants, many of whom were pregnant, were treated inhumanely by immigration agents. Given the challenge of reducing maternal mortality in the country, the Government must act. A stigmatising narrative contributed to normalising discrimination against women. It was impossible for women to seek legal assistance. Women of Haitian descent still had to provide evidence and were still in legal limbo and treated as foreigners. The COVID-19 pandemic had made the social exclusion more jarring.
Plan International said girls and adolescents faced different problems that exposed them to abuse and violence in the Dominican Republic. The tourist areas of the country, not only brought foreign currency, but also dangers for girls and adolescents who were sexually exploited every day. The limited sex education provided in schools decreased the use of contraception, increased the risk of pregnancy in adolescents, and reduced their quality of education. In January 2021, Law 01-21 was enacted, which prohibited child marriage in the country, as well as the creation of the Cabinet of Children and Adolescents. So far progress had been made in structuring and monitoring of the plan, but it was awaiting full implementation and allocation of funds by the Government.
Profamilia said the Dominican Republic was one of only six countries in the Central American and Caribbean region that still maintained an absolute criminalisation of abortion. This forced women to perform abortions in unsanitary, unsafe, and clandestine conditions, contributing to the high rate of maternal mortality in the country. Feminist and women's organizations had promoted an arduous struggle for the decriminalisation of abortion in three specific cases, when the woman's life was in danger, in cases of rape, or when there were fatal malformations for the survival of the foetus. This proposal had been under debate in Congress for the last 20 years.
Questions from Committee Members
Concerning Lebanon, a Committee Expert asked about the National Commission for Women of Lebanon and how its work could be enhanced. In the current situation in Lebanon, the devaluation of the Lebanese currency and the very stringent economic situation, could the non-governmental organizations provide proposals on how to help Lebanese women. How did they see the issue of abortion?
Another Committee Expert asked about the role of civil society in Lebanon in responding to the crisis and preparing for political reconstruction in the country. Was freedom of expression protected and was there any hope for a constitutional reform for article nine.
One Expert said a non-governmental organization had noted that the Lebanese authorities gave visas to women and girls to reside for half a year for the entertainment business, but then were sexually exploited. Which countries did these women come from?
Concerning Haitian women of African descent in the Dominican Republic, an Expert asked if more details could be provided as well as an explanation of the legal ways in which women and their children were affected. Another Committee Expert asked for more details about difficulties that women migrants faced concerning documents, and about children who were deported.
As for Uzbekistan, a Committee Expert asked about for more details on what was said about the criminalisation of HIV and other venereal diseases, as well as on this law and how it was practised.
A Committee Expert asked about violence against women in the Dominican Republic and what the State party was doing about it.
GLADYS ACOSTA VARGAS, Chairperson of the Committee, said that because of the time limit, they could not listen to the responses of the non-governmental organizations and they were asked to reply to the questions in writing. She thanked the non-governmental organizations for their very valuable briefing.
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