Sunday, August 25, 2019

cedaw zapazanja

8.3.2019. Geneva – The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) prepared its Concluding observations in which it points out numerous problems and areas of concern in the implementation of the Convention. The coalition of organizations – Autonomous Women’s Center, ASTRA, Women in Black – which prepared an alternative report and was present at the 72nd session of the Committee, expresses its satisfaction with the content of the Concluding observations. We would like to highlight recommendations made to Serbia to take measures to combat the anti-gender discourse and its adverse impact on the State party’s achievements in the area of women’s rights; strengthen the knowledge of the judiciary, prosecutors and lawyers on the Convention and their capacity to invoke and directly apply it in court proceedings; monitor the use of misogynistic language referring to women in public statements and media reporting, and ensure that women’s rights activists are able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association without intimidation or reprisals; that cases of alleged intimidation or reprisals against civil society activists are duly investigated, that civil servants that obstruct the prosecution of attackers are held accountable. 

The Committee recommends that in the following period the State strengthen the collection and analysis of gender-relevant statistics, including data on marginalized groups of women. The Committee also recommends that the State party raise awareness among relevant government officials, parliamentarians, employers and general public, especially women about the content of Convention and rights of women. The Concluding observations describe principal areas of concern, and list concrete recommendations for the improvement of the situation of women in areas covered by the Convention.

Alternative information about the situation concerning discrimination and rights of women was submitted to CEDAW by a greater number of women’s and civil society organizations, among them (as a regular practice now) the coalition of the Autonomous Women’s Center, ASTRA and Women in Black (the report has not been made public yet). The coalition reported on the situation concerning policies on the elimination of discrimination against women (art.2), measures for the development and advancement of women (art.3), elimination of stereotypes against women (art.5), violence against women (General recommendations 19 and 35), preventing and combating trafficking in human beings (art.6), status of women’s rights defenders (participation in political and public life, art.7), education (art.10) and women’s health (art.12).

Representatives of the coalition of the Autonomous Women’s Center, ASTRA and Women in Black were present in Geneva during the 72nd session when the report of the Republic of Serbia was considered. They participated in the official meeting of the CEDAW Committee with civil society representatives, as well as an informal meeting, during which there was an opportunity to further explain information in the report and answer specific questions of the Committee.

Representatives of the coalition would like to express their satisfaction with the level of understanding by the CEDAW Committee for the paradoxical situation in Serbia, including the current problems with amendments to laws, the bad implementation of laws and public measures, the evident lack of monitoring, data collection and analysis, as well as lack of reports on effects of implemented measures. This affected the questions raised by the Committee during its dialogue with the state delegation, as well as the concluding observations on issues that raise concern and recommendations in fields referred to by the coalition in its alternative report.

Based on what was said in Geneva, and based on the submitted document, it is not possible to confirm the statement of the head of the state delegation of Serbia and director of the Office for Human and Minority Rights, Suzana Paunovic, that “Serbia has achieved significant results when it comes to the advancement of the status of women”, and that “71% of the Committee’s recommendations have been fully completed and that the state is working intensively on the implementation of the rest of the recommendations”.

It is with great pleasure that we point out several significant recommendations we believe we directly contributed to:

  • Take all necessary measures to combat the anti-gender discourse and its adverse impact on the State party’s achievements in the area of women’s rights (10-b);
  • Strengthen the knowledge of the judiciary, prosecutors and lawyers on the Convention and their capacity to invoke and directly apply it in court proceedings, while ensuring that capacity-building initiatives adequately address the needs of women and girls (14-c);
  • Monitor the use of misogynistic language referring to women in public statements and media reporting; encourage the media to institute an effective self-regulatory mechanism to address it and introduce legislative amendments, as appropriate, to hold the authors accountable; use the education system to enhance positive and non-stereotypical portrayals of women (22-b);
  • Ensure that: (i) civil society organisations, including women’s rights activists, are able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association without intimidation or reprisals; (ii) cases of alleged intimidation or reprisals against civil society activists are duly investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted and appropriately punished, and that victims receive protection from such acts; (iii) civil servants that obstruct the prosecution of attackers are held accountable (28-c).

The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps taken to implement the recommendations concerning the adoption of the new Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination; about the repeal of an article in the Public Law and Order Act and ensure that women in prostitution are not criminalized by the laws, provision of exit programs and alternative income-generating opportunities for these women; the efforts to eliminate multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by the disadvantaged groups of women, while ensuring their economic empowerment, conducting a comprehensive survey to assess the situation, particular needs and aspirations of the disadvantaged groups of women; and about the recommendation to eliminate discrimination against women in relation to property and inheritance; equate marriage and partnership with regard to property and inheritance rights; enforce the right to joint ownership and establish the system of joint registration of property.

The fifth periodic report of Serbia is due in March of 2023.

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The Concluding observations of the CEDAW Committee can be viewed here.