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Response to the Draft Outline of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Fourth Report under the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

In the interests of transparency and full accountability, we recommend that the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("HKSAR Government") includes the following comments and suggestions in its Fourth Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women ("Committee").

 

Preamble 

  • A detailed description of how the consultation exercise with members of the public and relevant stakeholders was conducted, the period of consultation; the material content which formed the basis of consultation, the form and substance of the feedback received during the consultation, and how the feedback was processed to determine what was or was not considered for inclusion in the preparation of the government report;

 

  • Measures that have been taken to implement paragraph 74 of the Committee's Concluding Observations (2014) with regard to the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Beijing Platform for Action to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women("CEDAW"); and

 

  • Measures that have been taken to integrate gender perspective into all efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development framework as stipulated in paragraph 75 of the Committee's Concluding Observations (2014).

 

Article 2: Obligations of State Parties

  • An explanation as to why the recommendations in paragraphs 10 – 11 of the Committee's Concluding Observations (2014) with regard to the legal status of CEDAW and ratification of the Optional Protocol have not been adopted as yet; what steps and measures have been planned for their adoption; and

 

  • An update of paragraph 2.4 of the Third Report of the HKSAR Government with regard to the legislative proposals arising from the Equal Opportunities Commission's ("EOC") review on anti-discrimination legislations ("Discrimination Law Review"), the recommendations proposed by the EOC to the HKSAR Government, the specific recommendations that have been taken up by the HKSAR Government, and the proposed course of action and status of the remaining recommendations for reform based on the Discrimination Law Review exercise.

 

  • Action plan, if any, by the HKSAR Government, with regard to paragraph 55 of the Committee's Concluding Observations (2014) to revise the legislation on sexual offences and the definition of rape so that it is in line with international human rights standards. Since the Law Reform Commission has been reviewing sexual offences for the past 12 years and is due to complete its work in 2018, please state in the HKSAR Government Fourth Report to the Committee if the Government will adopt the Law Reform Commission's suggestions which are in line with international best practices and the time table to enact such legal reform.

 

Article 3: Appropriate Measures

  • An update of the implementation of the gender mainstreaming policy since the Committee's consideration of the HKSAR Government's Third Report on CEDAW, including the role and authority of and action taken by the Women's Commission in overseeing the implementation of gender mainstreaming, the effectiveness of existing strategies for the implementation of gender mainstreaming and its monitoring mechanisms, accessibility to its resources and whether there is relevant training on gender mainstreaming made available to all relevant stakeholders;

 

  • A description of thestrategy and measures, if any, to mainstream gender perspectives and particularly, sex education, as well as raising awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and gender-based violence, and the strategies to counter gender stereotypes, misogynist and patriarchal attitudes and systems through formal curricula in the education system and more informally, through public education programs to raise awareness in the community and work towards prevention;

 

  • Information about the various mechanismsof legal support offered by EOC to complainants; how long it takes a complainant to get to conciliation on average; and the rate of legal assistance offered to support an unconciliated case through legal proceedings when compared with the number of complaints received. Please include disaggregated data on the aforementioned information by dividing the data into various categories of complaint; and

 

  • Plans, if any, to revise the Race Discrimination Ordinance or legislate a new anti-discrimination ordinance to protect new arrival women from mainland China from discrimination on the basis of their place of national origin.

 

Article 4: Temporary Special Measures

  • An update since the Committee's consideration of the HKSAR Government's Third Report on CEDAWon paragraphs 52 – 53 of the Committee's Concluding Observations (2014) with regard to accelerating the representation of women in decision-making at all levels.

 

Article 5: Stereotyping and Prejudices

  • A description of the measures, statistics and regularity of programs and their outcomes, if any, in the broader community and in school-based education to enhance awareness of sexual violence, to tackle of myths related to rape and other forms of sexual violence and gender stereotypes as well as to encourage victims to seek help and advice through various channels;

 

  • An update of the measures taken since the Committee's consideration of HKSAR Government's Third Report on CEDAWwith regard to paragraph 55 of the Committee's ConcludingObservations (2014) on the resources allocated to combat domestic violence and the steps taken to address the shortfalls identified in available services in the Legislative Council’s Subcommittee on Domestic and Sexual Violence affecting Ethnic Minority and Immigrant women (2015-2016);

 

  • Statistics and information about sexual violence faced by women with disabilities in bothfamily, shelters and Residential Care Homes as well as respective legal measures, their enforcement and outcomes in response to such cases as well as proposed or enacted legislation to address these issues in light of numerous recent violations that have come to light;

 

  • Measures concerning government supervision on Residential Care Homes and the implementation on the Licensing Scheme for Residential Care Homes for Persons with Disabilities; and

 

  • Measures and resources allocated to addressthe specific needs of ethnic minority girls and women in handling gender-based violence which has been the subjectof indepth consideration by the Legislative Council's Subcommittee on Domestic and Sexual Violence Affecting Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Women.

 

Article 6: Exploitation of Women

  • Action plan, if any, by the HKSAR Government, with regard to paragraph 57 of the Committee's Concluding Observations (2014) to repeal the legislative provision on "vice establishment";

 

  • Measures, if any, that have been taken by the Hong Kong Police to enhance non-discriminatory protection for women in sex work who are exposed to the risks of violence; and

 

  • Detailed action plan to address the legislative gap pertaining to human trafficking for the purposes of labour in light of numerous recent cases depicting slavery-like conditions for migrant domestic workers, who are predominantly women and ethnic minority women.

 

Article 7: Equality in Political and Public Life at the National Level

  • Information pertaining to mechanisms, if any, to ensure the representation of a broad cross section of the community of women in Hong Kong on the Women's Commission, in particular, recognizing that apart from gender, women inhabit other marginalized statuses which subject them to multiple forms of discrimination, including but not limited to disability, race and social class.

 

Article 8: Equality in Political and Public Life at the International Level

  • Data pertaining to women's representation in political and public life in Hong Kong, particularly in high level positions of government and public institutions as well as personnel representing Hong Kong at the international level;

 

  • Mechanisms to determine and understand systemic barriers to women's political participation in political and public life and measures taken to address these barriers to enhance women's participation. Specifically, whether measures have been put into place to better understand the barriers precluding the participation of underrepresented women's group such as ethnic minority women, women with disabilities, lesbian, bisexual and transwomen and older women in this sphere; and

 

  • Detail whether any consideration has been given to adopting temporary special measures to address the aforementioned under-representation as a result of historical and systemic gender-based discrimination and continuing stereotypes which has set back women in terms of full participation in political and public life and to implement such measures with a view to achieving gender parity in this regard in Hong Kong.

 

Article 9: Equality in National Laws

  • Plans, if any, to revise the categories of Permits for Proceeding to Hong Kong and Macao (commonly known as One-way Permits) to protect the rights of family reunion for prospective new arrival single-parent women from mainland China and foreign domestic workers and their children with Hong Kong residency.

 

Article 10: Equality in Education

  • Information on sex education programs for girls and boys in schools and the various forms of gender-based discrimination that women face, including but not limited to disability, sexuality, family status, ethnicity and social class and many of these all at once.

 

Article 11: Equality in Employment and Labour Rights

  • Information about labour force participation rates of men and women and their employment earnings as well as sex disaggregated data on causal and part-time employment in the past 10 years disaggregated by ethnicity, age, occupation and employment levels;

 

  • Information about retirement protection for female workers of different levels of earnings and part- and full-time employment;

 

  • Pregnancy and family status discrimination in the workplace, including data about the complaints about deteriorating employment conditions due to pregnancy and data pertaining to rampant discrimination faced by migrant domestic workers who fall pregnant during their employment period in Hong Kong and the denial of maternity leave and other support in their conditions of employment;

 

  • Provision and support for child and elderly care services to encourage women to take up full-time employment; and

 

  • Information about government measures taken to prohibit and clamp down on excessive agency fees charged by employment agencies involved in the placement of migrant domestic workers which result in exorbitant loan repayment obligations on the part of helpers; regulate effectively the conditions of the employment and retention of migrant domestic workers, which perpetuate conditions of modern slavery and put them at risk of human trafficking, including those aspects highlighted by the Committee in its Concluding Observations (2014), paragraphs 64 – 65.

 

Article 12: Equality in Access to Health Facilities

  • Policies and measures taken to enhance gender sensitivity in the handling of cases involving women's health issues in access to healthcare;

 

  • Data and information pertaining to the health status of women with disabilities, including but not limited to comparative data on access to care of women with or without a disability, measures to tackle the aging problem as there are more women than men who are senior citizens given female longevity and the relevant healthcare services and facilities offered to women with or without a disability, information about disease incidence and prevalence disaggregated by sex, ethnicity, age and disability;

 

  • Frontline support, training and equipment in hospitals for women with disabilities;

 

  • Sex disaggregateddata on the prevalence of different kinds of mental illness, duration of the waiting time of new case in psychiatry and clinical psychologist in public health care to get the first appointment;

 

  • Action plan, if any, to introduce an official mechanism to have one-stop rape crisis centre in all Hong Kong public hospitals; and

 

  • Information about multidisciplinary collaboration in supporting victims of sexual violence in Hong Kong.

 

Article 13: Women in Economic, Social and Cultural Life

  • Measures to support to care-givers, with or without a disability, who work in unpaid work setting to take care of their family members that are elderly, persons with disabilities or chronic illness, or child with special learning needs;

 

  • Support offered to women with disabilities to enhance their autonomy and independence;

 

  • Measuresto support low-income workers, casual workers and care-givers in unpaid setting after their age of retirement;

 

  • Measuresto recognize unpaid work of homemakers in Hong Kong;

 

  • Strategy for building capacities of ethnic minority girls to handle gender-based discriminationand violence and related issues;

 

  • Statistics of compassionate rehousing offered on the ground of domestic violence; and

 

  • Information on whether recommendations of immigration discretion on acquiring permanent residence status in Hong Kong for victims of domestic violence who are dependent on abusive sponsors for visas are being considered to prevent further victimization and vulnerability of women on dependent visas who are victims of domestic violence.

 

Article 14: Rural Women

  • Information on the operation and basis for the Small House Policy and why recommendations in paragraphs 37 – 38 of the Committee's Concluding Observations (2006) were not adopted; or in the alternative, if the recommendations are being actively considered at present, a detailed plan of the proposed implementation of the recommendations.

 

Article 15: Equality in Legal and Civil Matters

  • Measures taken to prevent stalking and protect its victims;

 

  • Measures taken to protect victims of revenge porn, blackmail and other technology related offences targeting women, in particular underage girls, such as upskirt photography, voyeurism;

 

  • Measures taken to protect against the high rates of homicide-murders perpetrated against women and their children;

 

  • Measures taken to understand and investigate the underlying reasons behind the very low rates of prosecution of the offence of marital rape;

 

  • Measures taken to enhance gender sensitivity in frontline personnel involved with handling matters involving sexual offences and other forms of gender-based violence or offences.

 

Article 16: Equality in Family Law

  • Statistics outlining rates of divorce, joint-custody orders, maintenance order and those getting only HK$1 for maintenance, different measures to effectively enforce outstanding claims of maintenance or maintenance orders and the relevant statistics since the Committee's review of the HKSAR Government's Third Report on CEDAWand the rate of success in securing outstanding maintenance payments;

 

  • Statisticsdetailing incidences of violence that occur subsequent to the granting of shared parental custody in cases with a history of domestic violence and measures taken in terms of policy and frontline social workers to identify and respond to high-risk of recidivism of violence, particular in terms of the potential harm to women and their children; and

 

  • Training of legal personnel in gender sensitivity and equality related laws to ensure that the gender perspective and a sensitized approach is undertaken by all relevant personnel in the course of dealings.

 

by Women's Studies Research Centre, Centre of Comparative and Public Law of the University of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Women's Coalition on Equal Opportunities

Comprising 10 Women's Rights NGOs in Hong Kong SAR, China

  • Action for REACH OUT
  • Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women
  • The Association for the Advancement of Feminism
  • Association of Women with Disabilities Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Federation of Women's Centres
  • Hong Kong Women Christian Council
  • Hong Kong Women Workers' Association
  • JJJ Association
  • New Arrival Women League
  • Women Affairs' Committee, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

 

List of signatories:

  1. Association Concerning Legal Rights of Victims of Domestic Violence
  2. Hong Kong Unison
  3. Network for Women in Politics
  4. Alethea Jane Bleyberg (The ISF Academy)
  5. Alvin K. Wong (Yonsei University)
  6. Stacilee Ford (Women’s Studies Research Centre)
  7. Zhang Chi (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

 

Media Enquiry

Ms Si-si Liu

Director

sisi.liu@womencentre.org.hk
(852) 2748 8101