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UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Republic of Korea (CEDAW 14-03-2018)
The Committee considered the eighth periodic report of the Republic of Korea (CEDAW/C/KOR/8) at its 1576th and 1577th meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.1576 and CEDAW/C/SR.1577), held on 22 February 2018. The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/KOR/Q/8 and the responses of the Republic of Korea are contained in CEDAW/C/KOR/Q/8/Add.1.
D. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
Definition of discrimination against women and discriminatory laws
- The Committee notes with concern that the State party has yet to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea in 2006 and 2016. The Committee takes note of the information provided by the State party during the dialogue indicating that action against discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, would be taken and that the adoption of a general anti-discrimination law would be covered by the third national action plan, covering the period 2017–2021. It also notes with concern that a separate law on the prevention of discrimination based on gender has not been enacted since the repeal of the Gender Discrimination Prevention and Relief Act in 2005. The Committee further notes that, in 2015, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family requested the Daejeon Metropolitan Council to remove provisions related to lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from its Basic Ordinance on Gender Equality.
- Reiterating its previous concluding observations (CEDAW/C/KOR/CO/7, para. 15), the Committee recommends that the State party adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against women, including direct, indirect and intersecting forms of discrimination affecting disadvantaged groups of women, such as women living in poverty, women belonging to ethnic, racial, religious and sexual minority groups, women with disabilities, women refugees and asylum seekers, stateless and migrant women, rural women, single women, adolescents and older women, as defined in article 1 of the Convention and in line with the Committee’s general recommendation No. 28 (2010) on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of the Convention.
- The Committee welcomes the efforts to improve health-care services for women, including the expansion of social and health-care services for older women with a low income. It is, however, concerned that the State party’s policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights narrowly focus on the health of married and pregnant women and family health. The Committee is also concerned that access by transgender persons to medical services is reportedly restricted and that intersex persons are reportedly subjected to irreversible sex assignment surgery, sterilization or “genital normalizing surgery” without their informed consent.
- The Committee recommends that the State party review its health legislation and policies, in particular in relation to the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, and take corrective action, if required, in order to advance substantive gender equality in the health sector to include all women subject to intersecting forms of discrimination. The Committee also recommends that the State party ensure that transgender persons have a right of access to medical services, including national health insurance coverage, and that intersex persons are not subjected to involuntary medical interventions.