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UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
New Zealand (CEDAW 25-07-2018)
The Committee considered the eighth periodic report of New Zealand (CEDAW/C/NZL/8) at its 1616th and 1617th meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.1616 and CEDAW/C/SR.1617), held on 12 July 2018. The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/NZL/Q/8 and the responses of New Zealand are contained in CEDAW/C/NZL/Q/8/Add.1.
Access to justice
- The Committee remains concerned about the persistence of multiple barriers impeding women and girls from obtaining access to justice and effective remedies to claim violations of their rights, in particular for rural women, Maori, Pasifika, Asian, migrant and refugee women, women with disabilities, lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex persons. In particular, it notes the following with concern:
(a) The decrease in availability of legal aid, as the number of legal aid lawyers has declined steadily since 2011;
(b) Limited legal literacy among women and limited access for women to information on available remedies, in particular among rural women and migrant women;
(c) The lack of gender sensitivity within the judiciary, in particular within the family courts, including negative attitudes among judges and law enforcement officials towards women claiming violations of their rights.
14. Recalling its general recommendation No. 33 (2015) on women’s access to justice, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Increase the availability of legal aid for women, in particular Maori and migrant women and women belonging to ethnic minority groups, including in civil and family courts;
(b) Disseminate information, in particular in rural and remote areas, about the legal remedies that are available to women whose rights have been violated;
(c) Strengthen gender responsiveness and gender sensitivity among members of the judiciary, including by increasing the number of women judges and strengthening systematic capacity-building on the Convention for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers and other law enforcement officials.
Discriminatory stereotypes and harmful practices
- While noting the efforts made by the State party to eliminate negative stereotypes affecting women, the Committee expresses concern about the following:
(a) The high persistence of cyberbullying in high schools, which disproportionally affects women and girls with disabilities and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex students;
(b) The persistence of, and lack of reliable information on, entrenched harmful cultural norms and practices, including female genital mutilation, early and forced marriage, the use of dowry payments, polygamy and crimes in the name of so-called “honour”;
(c) The conduct of medically unnecessary procedures on intersex infants and children before they reach an age at which they are able to provide their free, prior and informed consent, and the inadequate provision of support and counselling for the families of intersex children and of remedies for victims.
- The Committee recommends that the State party adopt a comprehensive strategy to eliminate discriminatory stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society, in cooperation with civil society organizations, in particular women’s groups, community leaders, teachers and the media, in order to create an enabling environment that is supportive of gender equality. It further recommends that the State party:
(a) Systematically collect data on harmful practices, including cyberbullying targeting adolescent girls, and implement measures, such as awareness-raising campaigns in schools, to prevent such practices;
(b) Continue to combat harmful practices, in particular female genital mutilation, early and forced marriages, the use of dowry payments, polygamy and crimes in the name of so-called “honour”, and systematically collect data disaggregated by age and ethnicity on those harmful practices;
(c) Adopt clear legislative provisions explicitly prohibiting the performance of unnecessary surgical or other medical treatment on intersex children before they reach the legal age of consent, provide the families of intersex children with adequate counselling and support and provide redress to intersex persons who have undergone such unnecessary surgical or medical treatment.