How to use CEDAW for protecting women’s (migrant) rights

Women’s rights are frequently violated, especially in countries with poor tradition in democracy.  In one of the workshops in the first panel Lack of provision on migration in CEDAW; how to use CEDAW for protecting women’s (migrant) rights and reflection on the CEDAW consultation there have been examples given on how women rights are violated in 3 CIS states: Kirghizstan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

Women in Kirghizstan are confronted with a lack of freedom of mobility within the country. The right to move from one region to another inside the borders of Kirghizstan is limited; therefore many women have difficulties in finding a job. In order to make a living they have to move illegally to other regions with no possibility to register themselves, have to accept illegal jobs, and do not have access to social services. In many cases they are abused. The problem derives from the legislation, even the new constitution of Kirghizstan has no respect regarding human rights, the laws that rule the country being the old soviet laws.

In Azerbaijan women are exposed to yet another risk: lack of information when they marry foreigners. Marriages between Azeri women and men from England or Turkey are common in Azerbaijan. International marriages, when they are decided without a solid background of information may threaten gender equality and women rights. Moreover, women may be subjects of trafficking. Although there is no debate on citizenship rights in Azerbaijan, women are not informed on how they can protect their rights in their new country or which international institution can support them in case of emergency.

Uzbekistan is facing another serious problem concerning the most basic women’s and human rights: traffic of women. In order to protect women it has to be taken into consideration not just the fight agains this illegal networks, but also the push factors that are making the women to accept to emigrate without being informed. Most of the women who are subject of traffic are orphan girls or girls raised by a single parent, persons who experienced domestic violence in their families. It has been noticed that a growing number of women who are subject of traffic were “recruited” through false marriages.

The conclusion of this group discussion was that both sending states and host states have a responsibility in what concerns migrant women. There is a need of re-enforcement of CEDAW Convention through state policies in order to protect women and to stop the abuse. NGO’s activity is also very important both for informing the state about this issues and offering information for women, thus making them less vulnerable.

Irina Ilisei, participant at the Workshop 1, Panel 1

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