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UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Paraguay (CEDAW 22-11-2017)
The Committee considered the seventh periodic report of Paraguay (CEDAW/C/PRY/7) at its 1536th and 1537th meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.1536 and CEDAW/C/SR.1537), held on 26 October 2017. The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/PRY/Q/7 and the responses of Paraguay are contained in CEDAW/C/PRY/Q/7/Add.1.
D. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
Legal and institutional framework
- The Committee remains concerned at delays in the adoption of several pieces of legislation, including the anti-discrimination bill. It is also concerned at the insufficient implementation of the provisions of existing legislation and that this legislative gap may result in a lack of specific measures for the realization of the rights of women in the State party, especially those who face intersecting forms of discrimination.
- The Committee, recalling its previous concluding observations (CEDAW/C/PRY/CO/6, para. 13), recommends that the State party expedite the adoption of the bill prohibiting all forms of discrimination, which should include a definition of discrimination, in line with article 1 of the Convention, cover direct and indirect discrimination and discrimination in the public and private spheres and recognize intersecting forms of discrimination, including discrimination against lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women and intersex persons, in accordance with the recommendations that enjoyed the support of the State party in the second cycle of the universal periodic review (see A/HRC/32/9, paras. 102.38 and 102.52–102.56). The Committee further recommends that the State party comprehensively review its legislation to eliminate all discriminatory provisions.
- The Committee welcomes initiatives taken by the State party to raise the awareness of State media about gender-sensitive communication and to provide training for the communication directorates of State institutions. It is nevertheless concerned at the persistence of discriminatory stereotypes in this regard and at intersecting forms of discrimination against women based on their sex, ethnicity, disability and marital status, as well as against lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women and intersex persons. It is concerned that these stereotypes underpin discrimination and gender-based violence against women, including sexual and domestic violence and femicide, as well as sexual abuse at school and in the workplace. The Committee is further concerned about the prevalence of discriminatory gender stereotypes in the media, in particular sexist portrayals of women.
- The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Put in place, without delay, a comprehensive strategy to raise public awareness of the concept of gender and eliminate patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes that discriminate against women, which should include education and campaigns to raise awareness, targeting women and men at all levels of society, including community and religious leaders, and focus particularly on recognizing the value and dignity of women and empowering them to participate in decision-making processes in the community and in society at large, and should involve the engagement of civil society organizations and mass media organizations in the implementation of the strategy;
(b)Encourage the adoption of a code of conduct for advertising in public and private media, with a view to avoiding discriminatory stereotypes and media practices (CEDAW/C/PRY/CO/6, para. 19), and re-establish an entity monitoring the portrayal of women in public and private media;
(c) Expand gender-sensitive training to private media, encouraging them to convey positive images of women and their equal status with men in public and private life and to eliminate women’s portrayal as sexual objects.
Gender-based violence against women
- The Committee welcomes the adoption of legislation on the comprehensive protection of women against all forms of violence, including femicide. It takes note of the establishment of an inter-institutional forum for prevention, response, follow-up and protection to women in situations of violence and of a single registry of public services provided to victims of gender-based violence. However, it notes with concern:
(a) The insufficient resources allocated for the implementation of the national plan for the prevention of, care in relation to, protection from and monitoring of violence against women;
(b) The underreporting of violence against women, partially owing to the limited availability of and access to victim protection services;
(c) That domestic violence against women reportedly accounts for half of the cases of gender-based violence in the State party;
(d) Hate speech and acts of violence against transsexual women, and the absence of investigations into and prosecutions and convictions of the perpetrators of such acts;
(e) The lack of a unified, coordinated and coherent system for collecting data on gender-based violence (CEDAW/C/PRY/CO/6, para. 20), as provided for in article 29 of the Act on integral protection of women against all forms of violence.
- The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Allocate sufficient human, technical and financial resources for the implementation of the national plan for the prevention of, care in relation to, protection from and monitoring of violence against women, as well as for its monitoring and evaluation;
(b) Facilitate reporting of violence against women, including by improving access to means of reporting violence and increasing the number of shelters for victims, providing them with protection, legal and medical assistance, psychosocial rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, especially in rural areas;
(c) Ensure that girls and women are protected from gender-based violence, especially in the domestic sphere, provide training on the regional protocol for gender-sensitive investigations into intrafamily offences involving violence against women, monitor its implementation and take into account the results of the survey on gender-based domestic violence in order to develop targeted actions to raise awareness about the serious nature of domestic violence and to encourage women to report domestic violence;
(d) Ensure that all allegations of sexual harassment and gender-based violence, including against transsexual women, are investigated, prosecuted and punished with sanctions commensurate with the gravity of the crime;
(e) Establish a unified, coordinated and coherent system for collecting data on gender-based violence (CEDAW/C/PRY/CO/6, para. 20) and allocate adequate resources for its functioning, ensuring that the system includes data disaggregated by sex, age and relationship between the victim and perpetrator, on femicide, violence against lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women and intersex persons, women who are victims of trafficking and women in prostitution, as well as on the number of investigations, prosecutions, convictions and on the sentences imposed on perpetrators of such acts.
- The Committee welcomes the adoption of the current national sexual and reproductive health plan and the introduction of guidelines on the provision of comprehensive post-abortion services, requiring full confidentiality and medical secrecy for women who undergo an abortion. It also takes note of initiatives taken through the “Code Red” strategy to reduce maternal mortality and the distribution of health and birth kits to family health units, which extend to rural and indigenous areas. It is concerned, however, at:
(a) Delays in the adoption of the bill on sexual, reproductive, maternal and perinatal health;
(b) Significant gaps between rural and urban areas in access to affordable and high-quality antenatal, maternity and postnatal services, resulting in high numbers of unassisted and unregistered births;
(c) High rates of maternal mortality, mainly owing to the resort to unsafe abortions and health professionals refusing to conduct therapeutic abortions and reporting women who seek abortion-related assistance to the police;
(d) The criminalization of abortion and the restrictive conditions under which abortion is legally available, i.e., only in cases of threat to the life of the woman, thus excluding other circumstances such as threats to her health, rape, incest and severe impairment of the foetus;
(e) The high rates of death resulting from female breast cancer and cervical cancer in the State party, which are among the highest in Latin America;
(f) Women in prostitution, women with disabilities, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women and intersex persons and women living with HIV/AIDS facing difficulties in gaining access to health services and facing discrimination and mistreatment by health-care personnel.
- The Committee recalls its previous concluding observations (CEDAW/C/PRY/CO/6, para. 31) and recommends that the State party:
(a) Expedite the adoption of the bill on sexual, reproductive, maternal and perinatal health;
(b) Take action to overcome the obstacles to the proper functioning of gynaecology and obstetric services that were identified in the study by the Ombudsman’s Office, and ensure that rural and indigenous women have access to affordable and high-quality antenatal, maternity and postnatal services, including by increasing the number of family health units;
(c) Ensure the application of adopted guidelines regarding the obligation of confidentiality in the health-care system, including through training of health providers on those guidelines, and develop additional guidance for health professionals on the requirements and procedures for therapeutic abortions, in order to guarantee that women have effective access to reproductive health-care services, including abortion and post-abortion care;
(d) Remove punitive provisions imposed on women who undergo abortion, legalize abortion at least in cases of risk to the health of the woman, rape or incest and in cases of severe foetal impairment, and decriminalize it in all other cases;
(e) Strengthen the efforts to address the high rates of cervical and breast cancer by, among other things, improving prevention, early detection, treatment and psychological support for women and girls with cancer and by allocating adequate human and financial resources for that purpose;
(f) Ensure access to health services for all women and girls, including women and girls living with HIV/AIDS, women and girls with disabilities, women and girls in prostitution and lesbian, bisexual and transsexual women and intersex persons, and take measures to punish discriminatory treatment against them and address their stigmatization and social exclusion.