Guatemala – Observaciones Comité Derechos de la Mujer/2017

CEDAW/C/GTM/CO/8-9

Distr.: General

17 November 2017

Original: English

ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Concluding observations on the combined eighth and ninth periodic reports of Guatemala*

  1. The Committee considered the combined eighth and ninth periodic reports of Guatemala (CEDAW/C/GTM/8-9) at its 1558th and 1559th meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.1558 and 1559) held on 10 November 2017. The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/GTM/Q/8-9 and the responses of Guatemala are contained in CEDAW/C/GTM/Q/8-9/Add.1.
  2. Introduction
  3. The Committee appreciates the submission by the State party of its combined eighth and ninth periodic reports. It also appreciates the State party’s follow-up report (CEDAW/C/GUA/CO/7/Add.1) and its written replies to the list of issues and questions raised by the pre-sessional working group, as well as the oral presentation by the delegation and the further clarifications provided in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee during the dialogue.
  4. The Committee commends the State party’s large, high level delegation which was headed by Ms. Ana Leticia Aguilar Theissen, Presidential Secretary for Women. The delegation also included the Minister for Labour and Social Security, and representatives of the Presidential Secretariat for Women, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, the Ministry of Governance, Congress and the Congressional Commission for Women, as well as the Women Parliamentarian Forum, the Presidential Commission for Coordinating Executive Policy in the Field of Human Rights (COPREDEH), the Presidential Commission against Discrimination and Racism (CODISRA), the Human Rights Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.
  5. Positive Aspects
  6. The Committee welcomes the progress achieved since the consideration in 2009 of the State party’s seventh periodic report (CEDAW/C/GUA/7) in undertaking legislative reforms, in particular the adoption of:
  7. Decree No. 13-2017 amending the Civil Code to set the minimum age for marriage or entering into union at 18 years of age for women and men without exceptions;
  8. Decree No. 9-2016 for the immediate search for disappeared women and the establishment of a related mechanism;
  9. Decree No. 18-2016 creating prosecutors for crimes of trafficking in persons and crimes of femicide within the Public Prosecutor’s Office;
  10. Decree No. 27-2010 amending the Civil and Penal Codes and eliminating provisions that discriminate against women in relation to marriage, divorce, and presumption of paternity.
  11. The Committee welcomes the approval of the National Policy for the Promotion and Integral Development of Women (PNPDIM) and Equity Plan for Opportunities (PEO) 2008-2023, in 2009. It also notes with appreciation the adoption of the National Action Plan on the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security, in 2016.
  12. The Committee welcomes the fact that, in the period since the consideration of the previous report, the State party has ratified or acceded to the following international and regional instruments:
  13. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2009;
  14. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in 2012.
  15. The Committee notes with satisfaction the commitment of the State party to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in connection with the National Development Plan “K’atún: Our Guatemala 2032”, particularly to address discrepancies between women’s and men’s access to education, employment, and political representation.
  16. Factors and difficulties preventing the effective implementation of the Convention
  17. The Committee acknowledges the challenges that the State party faces to address the causes of persistent economic and social inequality, poverty, exclusion, and lack of access to land and productive resources for women, particularly indigenous and Garífuna and non-Garífuna Afrodescendant women, and the pressing need for increased and more efficient revenue collection to finance social expenditure. It notes the delays in delivering justice and payment of reparations for women victims of sexual violence during the internal conflict. The Committee also notes that continued allegations of corruption and impunity hamper efforts to strengthen the rule of law in the State party. It takes note of the deeply entrenched racism and discrimination against women, which contribute to the perpetuation of violence. The Committee further notes the pressure from anti-women’s rights groups and the increasing risk of setbacks and reversals in the achievement of women’s substantive equality.
  18. Parliament
  19. The Committee stresses the crucial role of the legislative power in ensuring the full implementation of the Convention (see the statement by the Committee on its relationship with parliamentarians, adopted at the forty-fifth session, in 2010). It invites Congress, in line with its mandate, to take the necessary steps regarding the implementation of the present concluding observations between now and the next reporting period under the Convention.
  20. Principal areas of concern and recommendations

Definition of discrimination and legislative framework

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation that the right to equality is included in article 4 of the Constitution and that the State party has made efforts to adopt laws and mechanisms for the advancement of women. However, it remains concerned about the absence of a comprehensive constitutional article on the right to non-discrimination, in line with articles 1 and 2 (b) of the Convention, as well as of legislation on the prohibition of all forms of discrimination and their sanctions. It is also concerned about the insufficient measures taken to modify or repeal existing discriminatory laws and regulations and about the lack of implementation and visibility of the Convention in the State party.
  2. Recalling its general recommendation No. 28 (2010) on the core obligations of States, the Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (CEDAW/C/GUA/CO/7, 2009 para. 12) that the State party:
  3. Apply the comprehensive definition of discrimination against women and girls contained in article 1 of the Convention and the prohibition of discrimination according to article 2 (b) and ensure that the legislation covers all prohibited grounds of discrimination, including on the basis of being indigenous or Garífuna or having a disability, as well as protection from discrimination for lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex women, in the public and private spheres, and intersecting forms of discrimination;
  4. Review its legislation, especially its Civil and Penal Codes, to ensure compliance with the Convention and repeal any provisions that discriminate against women;
  5. Raise awareness about the Convention and women’s rights among civil servants, the general public, and women particularly.

Access to justice and remedies

  1. The Committee commends the efforts of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to end impunity and combat corruption, in cooperation with the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and civil society organizations, and to increase women’s access to justice. It notes the adoption of the Policy for Indigenous Peoples to Access the Public Prosecutor’s Office and efforts to develop a specialized justice system and provide interpretation to strengthen access to justice for indigenous women. However, the Committee notes with concern:
  2. The multiple barriers to women’s access to justice, including due to the limited coverage of the justice system, mainly in remote geographic locations, poverty, and linguistic barriers, which act as deterrents to filing complaints, as well as the scarce entry points for women to access the justice system at the local level, such as police stations, health centres, schools or churches;
  3. The persistent social stigma, stereotypes and discrimination against women, particularly indigenous women, in the judicial system;
  4. The insufficient capacity of law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute cases and the resulting high level of impunity for perpetrators of gender-based violence against women, often due to corruption, lack of independence of the judiciary, or the influence that powerful non-State actors exert on judges, including through assassinations and threats of violence.
  5. Recalling its General Recommendation No. 33 (2015) on access to justice, the Committee recommends that the State party:
  6. Ensure women’s access to justice, including through the allocation of additional resources and enhancing women’s access to legal aid, free interpretation and the adoption and implementation of service provision protocols to improve access to justice that take into account the specific needs of indigenous and Afrodescendant Garífuna and non-Garífuna women;
  7. Provide mandatory capacity building for judges, lawyers, law enforcement personnel and other relevant professionals on women’s right to access to justice and on the remedies available to women seeking to access justice;
  8. Continue its efforts to strengthen the independence and effectiveness of the justice system, and to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of offenses against women and ensure that those officials who fail to abide by the international and national legal framework on human rights to prosecute perpetrators are appropriately sanctioned.

National machinery for the advancement of women

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation the commitment to reinstate the Presidential Secretariat for Women (SEPREM) as the main mechanism for the advancement of women as well as the approval of its Strategic Institutional Plan 2018-2022, after the weakening of the three principal machineries for the advancement of women, from 2012 to 2015. However, it notes with concern the State party’s reluctance to adopt draft legislation to elevate SEPREM to ministerial rank. It remains concerned about the limited resources, authority and capacity of SEPREM and other specific institutions tasked with the promotion of women’s rights including the Ombudsman for indigenous women (DEMI), and the national coordination office for the prevention of domestic violence and against women (CONAPREVI). The Committee notes with concern the insufficient budget allocated to institutional strengthening and the implementation of policies, including the National Policy of Promotion and Integral Development of Women (PNPDIM) and the Equitable Opportunities Plan (PEO), partly due to its insufficient tax revenue.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party:
  3. Strengthen the mandate of SEPREM, elevate it to the ministerial level, allocate adequate resources and improve its operational efficiency;
  4. Increase the capacity and resources of SEPREM, DEMI and CONAPREVI for the advancement of women, ensuring increased coordination among them, and expedite the reinstatement of CONAPREVI under SEPREM;
  5. Increase its public revenue to ensure the necessary resources for public spending, including for the implementation of the PNPDIM;
  6. Continue and intensify its efforts to implement the allocation of public resources according to the gender-responsive budgeting approach in the national budget to accelerate the achievement of substantive equality of women and men.

Temporary special measures

  1. The Committee notes with concern the lack of adequate consideration by the State party of the nature, scope and necessity of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating substantive equality between women and men, in accordance with article 4 (1) of the Convention. It is also concerned about the absence of temporary special measures to accelerate the achievement of substantive equality of women and men in political and public life, education and employment.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party adopt and implement temporary special measures, in line with article 4 (1) of the Convention, with specific targets and time-frames to accelerate substantive equality between women and men in all areas where women continue to be disadvantaged or underrepresented, such as in political and public life, education and employment, including indigenous and Afrodescendant women, as well as women with disabilities. In that regard, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to the Committee’s general recommendation No. 25 (2004) on temporary special measures.

Stereotypes

  1. The Committee notes with concern the persistence of discriminatory stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society in the State party where women are widely regarded as subordinate to men, which contributes to the perpetuation of high levels of violence against women and girls, including femicide, sexual and domestic violence, harassment and abuse.
  2. The Committee reiterates that the State party implement comprehensive measures to modify and transform discriminatory stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and at all levels of society, and eliminate discriminatory gender stereotyping (see paragraph 20 of its previous concluding observations, 2009). It recommends that the State party, as part of an overall strategy, train public officials within all sectors on the acceleration of de facto equality between women and men and the elimination of intersecting forms of discrimination against women and girls. In that regard, it recommends that the State party remove discriminatory gender stereotypes from textbooks and school curricula.

Gender-based violence against women

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation the creation of the Public Prosecutor’s Office with national jurisdiction over femicide and the specialized courts on femicide and other forms of violence against women. Given the retrogression of the institutions in charge of the protection of women from violence and the measures advanced in the previous reporting period, the Committee welcomes the recent reactivation of the National Coordinating Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (CONAPREVI) and the “Policy of decent and transformative reparation in cases of sexual violence, forced pregnancy and forced maternity in girls and adolescents”. However, the Committee remains concerned about:
  2. The pervasiveness of gender-based violence against women and girls in the State party, including alarming and increasing rates of femicide, hate crimes against lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex women, domestic violence, rape and incest resulting in forced pregnancies, and the absence of reliable disaggregated data and of effective preventive strategies;
  3. The low number of prosecutions and the lenient sentences imposed on perpetrators that result in systemic impunity and the failure to provide reparation for victims;
  4. The insufficient resources allocated to prevention and victim support services including shelters;
  5. Reports of sexual violence by medical personnel and coercive sterilization of women with disabilities, including women who are still institutionalized in the Federico Mora Mental Health Hospital;
  6. The lack of standardized gender-sensitive protocols for investigating and prosecuting cases of gender-based violence against women and girls and the insufficient capacity and availability of specialized courts on femicide and other forms of violence against women throughout the territory.
  7. Recalling its general recommendation No. 35 (2017) on gender-based violence against women, updating general recommendation No. 19, the Committee recommends that the State party implement its previous recommendation to strengthen the CONAPREVI (see para. 22, 2009). It also recommends that the State party:
  8. Implement, as a matter of priority and within a specific time-frame, a national plan for the prevention of gender-based violence against women, including indigenous and Afrodescendant women, women living in poverty, women with disabilities and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, and establish a centralized system for data collection on gender-based violence against women, disaggregated by age and relationship between the victim and the perpetrator;
  9. Ensure that all crimes committed against women and girls, particularly femicide, are investigated by the police and that perpetrators are prosecuted and adequately punished, and victims provided with adequate reparations;
  10. Allocate sufficient resources to ensure that shelters for women victims of gender-based violence are fully operational throughout the State party and ensure that women victims of gender-based violence have effective access to medical treatment, psychological counselling, legal assistance and other support services;
  11. Ensure the appropriate investigation and prosecution of all cases of sexual violence and of forced sterilization committed against women and girls with disabilities and that perpetrators are adequately punished, and that any medical procedure is carried out only with the free and informed consent of the women concerned, in accordance with international standards;
  12. Allocate sufficient human, technical and financial resources to strengthen and expand the geographical coverage of specialized courts on femicide and other forms of violence against women, harmonize the different laws and regulations on gender-based violence against women, enhance coordination among the different institutions responsible for their implementation, and adopt the use of the “Latin American Model Protocol for the investigation of gender-related killings of women” ensuring the gender-sensitive investigation and prosecution of all cases of gender-based violence against women and girls.

Gender-based violence against women committed during the internal conflict

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation the invaluable contribution of civil society, particularly women’s groups, in the peace processes in the State party. It commends the contribution of indigenous women victims and witnesses of crimes in the Sepur Zarco case (Case number C-01076-2012-00021). It also welcomes the development of the National Action Plan on the implementation UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in 2016. However, the Committee is concerned about the significant delay in the implementation of the Agreement for a Firm and Lasting Peace, particularly reparations for the crimes committed against women during the internal conflict and the pledges related to the advancement of women. It is also concerned about the insufficient funds allocated to the Peace Secretariat and the National Reparations Programme.
  2. Recalling its General Recommendation No. 30 (2013) on women in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations, the Committee recommends that:
  3. The State party ensure the expeditious implementation of the Agreement for a Firm and Lasting Peace;
  4. Investigate human rights violations of the past and provide redress to women victims of gender-based violence for the harm suffered;
  5. Make truth, reconciliation and reparation processes better known among women, including the Sepur Zarco case and judgment, so that women are aware of their right to bring their cases forward and seek justice;
  6. Allocate sufficient resources for the compensation of women victims of human rights violations under the National Reparations Programme and for the implementation of the National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325.

Trafficking and sexual exploitation

  1. The Committee welcomes efforts by the State party to strengthen its response to trafficking. It also notes the Ministry of Labour’s initiative to provide alternative income generating opportunities for women who wish to leave prostitution. However, the Committee is concerned about the high incidence of trafficking in women and girls, particularly indigenous, Afrodescendant and rural women, for purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation. It further notes with concern:
  2. The low prosecution and sentencing rates for perpetrators of trafficking in women and girls and reported cases of collusion of public officials in cases of trafficking and exploitation of prostitution, including in State-run institutions, such as child protection institutions and hospitals;
  3. Complaints about abuse and trafficking of girls, with the reported complicity of authorities, in the State residential institution for children in a vulnerable situation, “Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción”, where 41 girls perished in a fire and many others were injured due to the negligence of management, staff and guards;
  4. The vulnerability of internally displaced women and their families and women deported back to the State party at risk of trafficking for purposes of labour or sexual exploitation;
  5. The insufficient number of specialized shelters in the State party, particularly in rural areas;
  6. The State party’s insufficient capacity for the early identification of victims of trafficking and their referral to appropriate services.
  7. The Committee recommends that the State party reform the current system of child protection to ensure the dignity and the physical and psychological integrity of all girls. It also recommends the continuation of exit programmes and alternative income generation opportunities for women who wish to leave prostitution. It further recommends that the State party:
  8. Build the capacity of the judiciary and the police to conduct gender-sensitive investigations of cases of trafficking for purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation and to prosecute and adequately punish perpetrators;
  9. Proceed with the prompt investigation of the allegations of abuse and trafficking at the residential institution “Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción” and bring those responsible for the deaths and injuries of girls to justice without impunity and ensure the non-repetition of such events;
  10. Recognize and take measures to address the vulnerable groups in need of special attention including, migrant women, internally displaced women and their families, and women deported back to the State party, and increase the early detection capacity of law enforcement personnel to promptly identify victims of trafficking and facilitate their referral to appropriate services;
  11. Ensure the protection of women and girls victims of trafficking and provide them with free and immediate access to specialized shelters, medical care, psychosocial counselling, legal aid, and rehabilitation and reintegration services;
  12. Enhance regional cooperation with countries of transit and destination in order to prevent trafficking through information exchange and strengthen the capacity and resources of labour inspectors, police and border officials so as to identify forced labour, trafficking and related offenses against women and girls.

Participation in political and public life

  1. The Committee is concerned that the principle of gender equality, parity and the alternation of men and women for the nomination of candidates within political parties were not included in recent amendments to the Elections and Political Parties Act, despite two favourable decisions from the Constitutional Court, and that women candidates for public office, including indigenous and Afrodescendant women, continue to face obstacles. It is also concerned about the continued low representation of women in elected and appointed decision-making positions, with two female ministers, 27% women heads of mission in the Foreign Service, 16% Congresswomen, and less than 3% of mayors being women.
  2. The Committee reiterates paragraph 26 of its previous concluding observations (2009) and recommends that the State party:
  3. Take sustained measures, including temporary special measures, such as amending the Elections and Political Parties Act to introduce statutory quotas for women’s representation in elected and appointed decision-making positions, and the alternation of men and women for the nomination of candidates within political parties, and financial incentives for political parties with an equal number of women on their electoral lists and at equal ranks, in accordance with articles 4 (1), 7 and 8 of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendations 23 (1997) on women in political and public life, 25 (2004) on temporary special measures, to accelerate the representation of women in all areas of political and public life, including in elected bodies and governmental posts at all levels, and at the international level;
  4. Increase the availability of training and capacity-building programmes for women, including indigenous and Afrodescendant women, who wish to enter political life or hold public office;
  5. Enhance the capacity of the media to refrain from perpetuating stereotypes of women in public and political life and to ensure that women and men who are candidates or elected representatives receive equal visibility, especially during election periods;
  6. Raise awareness among politicians, the media, traditional leaders and the general public that the full, equal, free and democratic participation of women on an equal basis with men in political and public life is a requirement for the effective implementation of the Convention, as well as the political stability and economic development of the country.

Women human rights defenders

  1. The Committee notes information provided by the State party on the ongoing elaboration of the Public Policy for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. Nevertheless, the Committee notes with concern that women human rights defenders in the State party, including indigenous women defending land rights and environmental resources, women advocating for protection from gender-based violence, and women defending the human rights of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women, are increasingly subject to attacks, sexual violence, intimidation, stigmatization, criminalization of their activities, illegal detention, and defamation campaigns against them. It is also concerned that social protest is oppressed by means of using gender-based violence against women activists, including sexual violence. It notes with concern the overall impunity for perpetrators of gender-based violence and other rights violations against women human rights defenders as well as alleged cases of collusion between law enforcement officials and perpetrators.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party:
  3. Ensure the protection of women human rights defenders from violence and intimidation, including through the adoption and implementation of the Public Policy for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Protocol of the Public Prosecutor’s Office on the Investigation of Cases against Human Rights Defenders;
  4. Ensure the prompt investigation, prosecution and punishment of all abuses against women human rights defenders, taking into account the specific risks that women face;
  5. Guarantee that women human rights defenders and activists can freely carry out their work of protecting women’s human rights and exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Nationality

  1. The Committee is concerned by the failure of the State party to achieve universal birth registration.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party continue efforts to modernize and decentralize its civil registry offices and their ability to deliver services in the rural areas and where indigenous languages are predominant.

Education

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation the State party’s efforts to develop a bilingual education system and to provide culturally appropriate education to girls and boys. However, it remains concerned at the significant level of illiteracy and poor numeracy among girls and women, in particular indigenous girls and women. It is concerned about the disproportionately low enrolment and high dropout rates of girls in the education system, due to multiple factors including poverty, violence and harassment on the way to or at school, early pregnancy, as well as competing household and caretaking obligations or their recruitment as domestic workers. The Committee is also concerned about the limited access to secondary education for indigenous and rural girls and women and the insufficient resources to implement and make bilingual and intercultural education widely available in indigenous communities. The Committee further notes with concern the delays in the adoption of a public policy on age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights and the lack of implementation of the comprehensive sex education programme.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party increase efforts through the Ministry of Education to increase the inclusion and retention of girls in school, particularly at the secondary level, with special attention being paid to indigenous girls. It also recommends that the State party:
  3. Adopt and implement targeted measures, including temporary special measures, to accelerate the equal access to free quality education at the mandatory levels for girls and women, including indigenous and Afrodescendant girls and girls with disabilities;
  4. Strengthen efforts, including through scholarships and the free provision of school meals, to retain girls in school and ensure that young mothers can effectively return to school following childbirth and complete their education;
  5. Enhance school infrastructures in rural and remote areas to facilitate girls’ access to quality education and improve the quality of distance education;
  6. Establish effective reporting and accountability mechanisms to investigate and prosecute cases of sexual abuse or harassment of girls in school environments;
  7. Strengthen the capacity of teachers to provide bilingual and intercultural education for indigenous and rural communities;
  8. Incorporate age-appropriate curricula at all levels of education on comprehensive sexuality education for girls and boys including sexual and reproductive health and rights, responsible sexual behaviour, prevention of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and train teachers to deliver it;
  9. Enhance cooperation and partnerships with, among others, civil society organizations, the private sector, and the media to ensure quality education for all women and girls.

Employment

  1. The Committee reiterates its concern about discrimination against women in employment, the lack of social and labour protection due to the precarious nature of women’s insertion in agriculture, maquilas, and local production of food (“tortilleras”) and their segregation in the lowest-paid occupations, particularly in informal occupations where most women work, including domestic labour. It is also concerned about the persistence of child labour and the limited information on eradication strategies. The Committee notes with concern the absence of legal provisions explicitly addressing sexual harassment in the workplace and is concerned about discriminatory and illegal practices such as HIV/AIDS and pregnancy testing of women during job selection procedures.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party eliminate horizontal and vertical occupational segregation, including by adopting temporary special measures to promote access for women to employment and that it:
  3. Increase women’s access to decent work and transition away from the lowest paid professions to employment in the formal sector and ensure that women employed in the informal and agricultural sectors are covered by social and labour protections;
  4. Expedite the ratification of ILO Convention No. 189 (2011) on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and establish a minimum wage and social security as provided by law for all workers;
  5. Intensify labour inspections to detect child labour and prosecute employers who recruit girls for exploitation purposes, principally in the informal sector and in agriculture;
  6. Adopt legislation to specifically address, including though labour and criminal law, sexual harassment in the workplace, with adequate penalties and provision of redress to victims of sexual harassment.

Health

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation the recognition by the State party of traditional practices and indigenous knowledge for their important contribution to women’s health, particularly as regards maternal health. It also notes the approval of a protocol for therapeutic abortion, to guarantee the life and health of women. However, the Committee remains concerned about:
  2. The low level of public investment in health and the limited coverage and access to health care services for women across the State party, particularly in rural areas, due to cost, geographical factors and discrimination by health services personnel;
  3. The persistent high rates of maternal mortality, early pregnancy, and malnutrition, particularly among indigenous women and girls;
  4. The lack of comprehensive education on sexual and reproductive health and rights and family planning services, and the limited access to modern contraceptives in the State party;
  5. The increasing prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS among women, despite decreased rates among the overall population;
  6. The absence of measures to implement the Committee’s previous recommendations to revise legislation criminalizing abortion and to prevent unsafe abortions (para. 36, 2009).
  7. The Committee recommends that the State party:
  8. Increase its health expenditure and improve coverage and access to health services throughout its territory;
  9. Reduce the incidence of maternal mortality, including through collaboration with traditional midwives and training of health professionals, especially in rural areas, ensuring that all births are attended by skilled health personnel, in line with Sustainable Development Goals 3.1 and 3.7, and coordinated efforts to address malnutrition in a strategic, gender-sensitive and culturally appropriate manner;
  10. Ensure access to quality sexual and reproductive health care services to all women, including age-appropriate sex education in schools and awareness-raising campaigns in local languages on family planning, prevention of early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as affordable access to modern contraceptives;
  11. Ensure that women and girls victims of sexual abuse have immediate access to emergency health care services, including to reduce the risk of harm resulting from unsafe abortion;
  12. Guarantee the equal access for women and men to adequate treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS as well as free access to antiretroviral medicines for women and girls to prevent mother-to-child transmission;
  13. Legalize abortion in cases of threat to the health of the woman, rape, incest or severe foetal impairment and decriminalize it in all other cases, and implement effective measures to provide access to therapeutic abortion.

Economic and social benefits and economic empowerment of women

  1. The Committee welcomes that the national economic policy defines priorities for women’s economic empowerment. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned about women’s disproportionate levels of poverty and the lack of initiatives to increase tax collection for social expenditure. It is concerned about the inadequate management of development processes and the fragmentation of small programmes for social development which are insufficiently monitored or evaluated and a lack of a coherent policy on social compensation addressed at women, especially to heads of households. The Committee is also concerned that the majority of women employed in the informal sector do not have access to the national social security system, social protection or compensation programmes. It is also concerned about the barriers that women face in accessing financial services such as the requirement to provide proof of steady income or employment, or of property ownership.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party:
  3. Increase tax collection and improve revenue administration;
  4. Take measures to reduce poverty and improve women’s economic empowerment, particularly among indigenous and Afrodescendant women;
  5. Increase women’s access to the national social security system, develop coordinated social protection and compensation programmes for women and modernize the outdated management of development processes;
  6. Establish adequate mechanisms of monitoring, evaluation, and impact analysis of social development programmes directed at women, and ensure the participation of women in efforts to meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
  7. Foster targeted measures increasing specially women’s access to financial services, including low-interest credit and savings schemes, and promote their entrepreneurial activities providing technical assistance and counselling.

Rural, indigenous and Garífuna women

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation the adoption of the Policy for Gender Equality and the strategic implementation plan of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA) for 2014-2023. However, it is concerned about the current trend of rural development and the degradation of living conditions in rural areas, especially in indigenous and Garífuna communities. It also notes with concern that rural women continue to have restricted or no access to housing, basic services and infrastructure, including safe water and adequate sanitation as well as the high concentration of land ownership in the hands of a few, which limits women’s livelihood and employment opportunities. It is further concerned about recent forced evictions where women and girls have been victims of excessive violence, harassment and sexual assault by public and private security officers. The Committee is also concerned about the harmful impact of the use of pesticides, fertilizers and agrochemicals on women’s health.
  2. Recalling its general recommendation No, 34 (2015) on the rights of rural women, the Committee recommends that the State party:
  3. Ensure the participation of rural, indigenous and Garífuna women in rural organizations and in the development and implementation of policies, programmes and initiatives aimed at promoting their employment opportunities and economic empowerment;
  4. Broaden and facilitate rural, indigenous and Garífuna women’s access to land ownership and the representation of women in decision-making processes concerning land use and development planning
  5. Take legal and other measures to prevent forced evictions and attacks against women, effectively protect women victims of harassment and violence in the context of forced evictions, bring perpetrators to justice and seek the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous women through consultations and ensure that they are provided with adequate alternative livelihoods and benefit from intensive farming, development projects and extractive activities on their traditional lands, in accordance with ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples;
  6. Guarantee rural, indigenous and Garífuna women’s access to basic services and housing, safe water and adequate sanitation, and prompt investigations of complaints by rural women about the harmful use of pesticides, fertilizers and agrochemicals.

Migrant women and internally displaced women

  1. The Committee welcomes the approval of the Migration Code (Decree 44-2016) which adopts a human rights-based approach and considers the specific situation of women on the move. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned about:
  2. The lack of regulations to implement the Migration Code;
  3. The absence of a policy to protect the rights of women migrant workers;
  4. The lack of data on the situation of internally displaced women and their families, and the multiple reasons for their displacement including forced evictions from land, violence and threats against them by State and private actors/companies, organized gang crime, and environmental degradation.
  5. The Committee recommends that the State party:
  6. Adopt regulations for the effective implementation of the Migration Code, in compliance with international standards, including respect for the principle of non-refoulement, decriminalization of irregular entry, and provision of assistance to all women in need of international protection;
  7. Develop and implement policies to protect and promote the rights of women migrant workers, in collaboration with countries in the region;
  8. Conduct analytical research on the multiple reasons for women’s migration and internal displacement as the basis to formulate adequate policy responses to guarantee the human rights of women in international migration contexts and to address the root causes of internal displacement.

Women in detention

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation recent pilot initiatives with international support for penitentiary reform, including non-custodial alternatives to pre-trial detention of women and men, such as electronic monitoring bracelets. The Committee is concerned, however, that 50% of women being held in custody are in pre-trial preventive detention. It also notes with concern the overcrowded and deplorable conditions in places of detention for women as well as reported cases of gender-based violence, depriving, lesbian and transgender women of partner visits, and the use of isolation as punishment. It further notes with concern the inadequate accommodation of pregnant women and women in detention with their children.
  2. The Committee recalls the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules; 2010) and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules; 2016) and recommends that the State party:
  3. Continue its efforts for penitentiary reform and reduce overcrowding through the promotion of non-custodial alternatives to pre-trial detention;
  4. Ensure that women in detention have adequate access to health care, nutrition and hygiene;
  5. Promptly investigate all alleged cases of ill-treatment and violence against women in detention, and provide for partner visitation rights without discrimination affecting lesbian and transgender women;
  6. Provide alternatives to detention for pregnant women and mothers with young children, taking into account the best interest of the child.

Marriage and family relations

  1. The Committee welcomes legal amendments to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 years and the elimination of any exemptions from that age (Decrees 8-2015 and 13-2017). Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned that many girls are still getting married or entering into a union, with serious negative consequences for their health and education. It notes with concern that provisions related to the age of sexual consent in the Penal Code have not been brought in line to ensure protection for girls between 14 and 18 years of age. The Committee is also concerned about the high number of unregistered marriages.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure the strict application of Decrees 8-2015 and 13-2017. It also recommends that the State party harmonize the provisions of the Penal Code related to the age of sexual consent (arts. 173 and 173 bis). It recommends that the State party address the root causes of early marriage and unions and carry out public awareness raising programmes to end such practices, including campaigns on the negative health and education consequences of early pregnancy and marriage for girls. It also recommends that the State party adopt measures to protect the rights of girls already in child marriages and unions and to ensure the registration of all marriages.

Data collection and analysis

  1. The Committee notes with appreciation that the next census will take place in April 2018. The Committee regrets however that available data does not appropriately allow for an adequate understanding of living conditions and existing inequities as it is insufficient and out of date. It also regrets that insufficient disaggregated data was provided in many areas addressed by the Convention. The Committee is concerned about the lack of information regarding measures to build the capacity of the National Statistical Institute to provide sex-disaggregated statistics on the situation of women.
  2. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that the next census (2018) includes the criteria of self-identification for the identification and recognition of indigenous and Garífuna and non-Garífuna Afrodescendant women. In this regard, the Committee recommends that civil society organizations, including indigenous and Garífuna and non-Garífuna Afrodescendant women’s organizations be involved in all processes of recollection gathering , and that awareness raising programmes be put in place for communities and all those in charge of designing, collecting and analysing information. It also recommends that the State party take measures to strengthen the capacity of the National Statistical Institute to improve the collection and analysis of statistical data, disaggregated by sex, age, race, ethnicity, geographical location and socioeconomic background, in all areas covered by the Convention, in particular with respect to groups of women affected by intersecting discrimination, in order to assess the progress towards de facto equality, the impact of measures taken, and the results achieved.

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

  1. The Committee calls upon the State party to use the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, in its efforts to implement the provisions of the Convention.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

  1. The Committee calls for the realization of substantive gender equality, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention, throughout the process of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Dissemination

  1. The Committee requests the State party to ensure the timely dissemination of the present concluding observations, in the official language of the State party, to the relevant State institutions at all levels (national, regional, local), in particular to the Government, the ministries, Congress and the judiciary, to enable their full implementation.

Technical Assistance

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party link the implementation of the Convention to its development efforts and that it avail itself of regional or international technical assistance in this respect.

Ratification of other treaties

  1. The Committee notes that the adherence of the State party to the nine major international human rights instruments would enhance the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. The Committee therefore encourages the State party to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to which it is not yet a party.

Follow-up to concluding observations

  1. The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps taken to implement the recommendations contained in paragraphs 15 (a), 25 (b), 35 (b) and 41 (a) above.

Preparation of the next report

  1. The Committee requests the State party to submit its 10th periodic report, which is due in November 2021. The report should be submitted on time and cover the entire period up to the time of its submission.
  2. The Committee requests the State party to follow the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines on a common core document and treaty-specific documents (see HRI/GEN/2/Rev.6, chap. I)).

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