Pakistan (CEDAW 10-03-2020)
The Committee considered the fifth periodic report of Pakistan (CEDAW/C/PAK/5) at its 1751st and 1752nd meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.1751 and
CEDAW/C/SR.1752), held on 12 February 2020. The list of issues and questions raised by the pre-sessional working group is contained in CEDAW/C/PAK/Q/5, and the responses of Pakistan are contained in CEDAW/C/PAK/RQ/5.
B. Positive aspects
- The Committee welcomes the progress achieved since the consideration in 2013 of the State party’s fourth periodic report in undertaking legislative reforms, in particular the adoption of the following:
(a) Criminal Law (Amendment) (Offences in the Name or on Pretext of Honour) Act and the Criminal Law (Amendment) (Offences relating to Rape) Act, both in 2016;
(b) Juvenile Justice System Act, which establishes a programme of diversion for juvenile offenders, in 2018;
(c) Act No. XIII of 2018, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, which recognizes the right of persons to choose their gender identity and prohibits discrimination against and harassment of transgender and intersex persons;
(d) Elections Act of 2017, which seeks to ensure equal access for women to voting registration;
(e) Acid and Burn Crime Act of 2018, which criminalizes the misuse of corrosive substances and provides for treatment, rehabilitation, legal support and protection for victims of acid and burn attacks.
E. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
- The Committee commends the State party for the adoption of the National Vision 2016–2025 for Coordinated Priority Actions to Address Challenges of Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health and Nutrition and its action plan. However, it notes that the action plan fails to specify indicators, targets and budgetary commitments for its implementation. Furthermore, the Committee notes with concern:
(a) The high maternal mortality rate in the State party;
(b) Women’s limited access to family planning services, including modern contraceptives;
(c) Restrictive abortion laws and the large number of women resorting to unsafe abortions, as well as the lack of adequate post-abortion care services;
(d) The high incidence of obstetric fistula in the State party, resulting from prolonged obstructed labour in the absence of skilled birth attendance, as well as iatrogenic fistula, resulting from surgical negligence during caesarean section or hysterectomy;
(e) The subjection of women with disabilities, in particular those living in institutions, to forced sterilization, and the performance of gender reassignment surgery on intersex persons for the purpose of legal gender recognition and victims’ limited access to justice.
- In line with its general recommendation No. 24 (1999) on women and health, the Committee recommends that the State party ensure the implementation of the National Vision 2016–2025 and its action plan, with clear, time-bound targets, and establish a permanent body to coordinate and monitor their achievement. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Improve women’s access to health-care facilities and to medical assistance provided by trained personnel, especially in rural and remote areas, and ensure the adequate allocation of human and financial resources to the health sector in all provinces and the accessibility and safety of all health services for women and girls;
(b) Strengthen its efforts to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality and ensure access to affordable modern contraceptive methods throughout the State party;
(c) Review its abortion legislation with a view to legalizing abortion in cases of rape, incest, threat to the life or health of the pregnant woman or severe fetal impairment, and with a view to decriminalizing it in all other cases, and prepare guidelines to ensure that women and girls have access to safe post-abortion care;
(d) Address the high incidence of obstetric fistula and the physical and economic barriers resulting in women’s limited access to antenatal, delivery and postnatal care;
(e) Ensure that perpetrators of forced sterilizations are prosecuted and adequately punished, prevent unnecessary gender reassignment surgery in law and in practice, identify and eliminate the barriers preventing victims from gaining access to justice and ensure that they have access to effective reparation, including compensation.