News

07 07 2014 - CEDAW 58th session

This week the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) runs it’s 58th session where the report of the Republic of Lithuania is addressed. Thanks to the support from EEA Grants (NGO Programme in Lithuania) two representatives of the Center for Equality Advancement – Director Virginija Aleksejūnė and Legal Expert Laima Vaigė – are also taking part in the session.

Lithuania has put efforts to implement the Concluding observations of the CEDAW Committee adopted in 2008. However, some concerns remain. In particular, we would like to highlight de-gendering policies, temporary special measures, violence against women, reproductive health issues, and awareness of the CEDAW.

De-gendering policies

We consider it a dangerous trend that gender equality is seen as an issue from the past rather than pressing actuality. While the society grows more gendered, the laws and programs are developing to the opposite direction, and the gender dimension is often lost.

For instance, the newly adopted National program on Domestic violence (28 May 2014) does not mention gender-based violence, does not foresee the need to address patriarchal stereotypes prevalent in the country, which often are the cause of such violence. Women rights organisations fear that the draft Action plan under this Program undermines the role of the NGOs. Moreover, in 2014 the Ministry of Social Security and Labour initiated discussions on termination of the National Program of Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, notwithstanding the evidence-based research about the absence of systematic gender mainstreaming strategy in state institutions.

Thus, we would like to ask what steps are foreseen to ensure gender equality in Lithuania, at the regulatory, institutional and policy levels, and whether it will be reflected in the budget.

Temporary special measures

Up till now Lithuania has ignored the recommendation of CEDAW Committee to adopt laws on temporary special measures or quotas to ensure gender balance in political and public life. Despite recommendation for simplification, the procedure of adopting temporary special measures remains complicated – each measure has to be entrenched by special law. Thus, we suggest asking about the intentions to adopt temporary special measures in Lithuania, and/or simplifying the procedure of their adoption.

Violence against women

By adopting the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence, Lithuania brought major positive changes in the area of combating gender-based violence. However, the first years of its implementation revealed a number of issues related to both legal loopholes in the Law and weaknesses in the application of the Law. The main concerns include: gender-blindness of the law and subsequent regulations (no recognition of gender dimension); absence of the effective monitoring mechanisms of protection orders; insufficient financial support for victim help centers and NGOs; lack of commitment for prevention of domestic violence; excessive application of reconciliation procedures; inadequate attention to police and judicial trainings, and lack of involvement of the health care sector.

Sexual violence against women remains an alarming issue which Lithuania has failed to address duly. The European Women’s Lobby’s in 2013 identified Lithuania as one of six European countries with legislation far below the minimum standards as set forth in the Council of Europe Convention on combating and preventing violence against women and domestic violence. No strong condemnation of marital rape, lack of its explicit criminalization, and lack of statistical data were seen as the main issues of concern.

Thus, we suggest to ask whether the state intends to introduce the concept of gender-based violence in the national legislation or subsequent regulations, and what are the steps foreseen for improving the protection of gender-based violence victims, including those who suffered sexual violence.

Reproductive health concerns

The state continues to consider legislative initiatives restricting access to safe and legal abortions. In 2013 a new draft law on restricting abortions has been debated in the Parliament. Furthermore, no reproductive health legislation has been adopted to this date, although many drafts have been considered.

The access to modern contraception in Lithuania is one of the lowest in Europe. Meanwhile, the guidelines for sexual education at schools grounds sexuality on chastity (purity), focuses on dangers of contraception, argues against abortions, and claims that homosexuality can be cured. Sexual education is largely limited to promotion of abstinence, which is left for the girls to ensure before marriage.

Various studies show the continuing presence of rooted stereotypes and discrimination associated with gender in secondary schools and high-schools.

Thus we suggest asking whether the state intends to adopt a law on reproductive health issues and what steps are intended for improving the access to contraception and non-bias sexual education.

Awareness of the CEDAW

Finally, we would like to raise the issue of public awareness of the CEDAW as one of the fundamental human rights instruments, and of the Committee’s General recommendations and concluding observations. Unfortunately, it remains very low, there has been no national case-law referring to the Convention or the Committee’s General recommendations so far.

We suggest inquiring on the possible reasons for the lack of awareness of the CEDAW.

 

Our complete shadow report and some useful links can be found below.

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