By Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon
Phayul Special Correspondent
United Nations, Geneva, September 1 – Last week at the UN’s headquarters in New York, the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) said that in present-day China women, including Tibetan women faced multiple forms of discrimination and called upon the Chinese authorities to take measures to change the situation.
Adopting its conclusions and recommendations on China’s combined fifth and sixth reports which CEDAW reviewed in two public meeting on 10 August, the Committee expressed concern about the disadvantaged position of rural women with regard to access to education, health, employment, and participation in leadership and land property. “It is also concerned at the situation of rural minority women, including Tibetan women, who face multiple forms of discrimination based on sex, ethnic or cultural background and socio-economic status,” the body said in a document dated 25 August.
Reiterating the Committee’s concern on the lack of a clear definition of discrimination against women in Chinese domestic legislation, CEDAW urged the Chinese authorities “to take a holistic approach to eliminating the multiple forms of discrimination that ethnic minority women face and to accelerate the achievement of their de-facto equality.”
The Committee did welcome certain legal reforms undertaken by China in recent years that relate to women rights but regretted that China’s reports failed to provide adequate data and analytical information on the situation of women. In this respect CEDAW recommended that in China’s next reports contain comprehensive information “on the situation of rural women, including ethnic minority women, especially with regard to their education, employment and health status and exposure to violence.”
As regards coercive birth control practices by the Chinese authorities on Tibetan women, the Committee has urged China “to investigate and prosecute the reports of abuse and violence against ethnic minority women by local family planning officials, including forced sterilization and abortion.”
The Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) had in a report to the Committee called for international scrutiny “to ensure that the Chinese Government complies international and humanitarian and halts torture and other cruel treatment of Tibetan women during detention and imprisonment.” In reaction to such inputs received NGOs, the Committee said it was concerned about “reported incidents of violence against women in detention centers, in particular in Tibet” and advised China “to enhance victims’ access to justice and redress…”
On another serious matter which is affecting Tibetan girls with a growing number of them being lured to prostitution that can have a direct link to human trafficking, CEDAW said that the definition of trafficking in China’s Penal Code “is limited to the purpose of exploitation of prostitution and is therefore not in line with international standards.”
China’s next report, the seventh, to the Committee was due this month. However, the Committee concluded that China’s seventh and eighth reports should be submitted as a combined one in 2010.
Although the Chinese delegation before CEDAW was more than 25 members, none of the listed officials included Tibetans from either the “Tibet Autonomous Region” or other Tibetan areas in present-day China. As its past reports to other UN Treaty Bodies, China again failed to provide meaningful and adequate information about the overall situation of Tibetan women in all Tibetan areas under its rule.Click here to view full CEDAW Document.(pdf)