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Eight countries examined still have sexist laws, UN women's committee says

Eight countries examined still have sexist laws, UN women's committee says

Rosario Manalo (R) and Maria Regina Tavares brief press
The United Nations women's anti-discrimination panel said today its experts had examined the recent records of eight Member States and found that they maintained sexist laws and that stereotypes of the inferior woman abounded.

The countries which submitted reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) for analysis were Algeria, Croatia, Gabon, Italy, Laos, Paraguay, Samoa and Turkey.

The Committee gave the countries detailed recommendations on how to revise specific laws, increase the number of women in public office, provide scholarships to women for training in non-traditional fields and train law enforcement and health care workers on supporting female victims of violence.

"There was no State in which the Committee could say women's de jure equality has been achieved," CEDAW chair Rosario Manolo told a press briefing on the eve of the closing of the Committee's 32nd session in New York.

"Discriminatory laws remain on the books everywhere and a there is a lack of legislation adequately to protect women from violations of their human rights or the impact of a neutral law that is discriminatory of women," she said.

In all eight countries, negative female stereotypes were found throughout society, "whether it is traditional practices, or patriarchal structures, or attitudes about women's and men's proper roles in the family and in society," she said.

All the governments had significant additional work ahead to abolish prejudicial laws, customs and practices and to mount information campaigns about women's rights, especially in employment and education. Women were often unaware of their rights and of existing mechanisms for getting redress, Ms. Manolo said.

Under an optional 1999 protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which entered into force in 1981, the Committee conducted its first inquiry into "grave or systematic violations" by probing the fate of missing and murdered women in Ciudad Juarez, the Chihuahua state capital near the Mexican border with the United States.

One of the two women who conducted the inquiry, Maria Regina Tavares da Silva, told the briefing the Government of Mexico had put many new programmes in place to tackle the problems, with some initial results, although "the cultural environment could not be changed overnight."