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Submission of Hong Kong Shadow Report to CEDAW Committee on the Implementation of CEDAW in Hong Kong

NGO Oral Presentation

Hong Kong, China

 

Presented at the 59th CEDAW Session, Geneva, 20 Oct – 7 Nov 2014

Presented by Ms. KWOK Ka Chai and Ms. LEUNG Wing Yan (Joanne)

 

Madame Chair,

 

On behalf of the Hong Kong Delegation, which consists of 9 NGOs, we are presenting the Statement to highlight some of the priority issues set out in our Shadow Reports:

 

HIGH-LEVEL MECHANISMS

POLITICAL PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

FEMINIZATION OF POVERTY

MARGINALIZED GROUPS OF WOMEN

 

Hong Kong is the last free land in China, and we truly think that if Hong Kong fails to protect human rights for all and realize genuine democracy, it is hard to see substantive improvement for Chinese women's rights.

 

HIGH-LEVEL MECHANISMS

We are pleased and grateful to the Committee at the last session for having taken up the issues on the need for high-level mechanisms. However, since last session, HK Government still fails to strengthen the Women's Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission (WOC and EOC), the two major statutory bodies in the Government, to improve the existing anti-discrimination laws, and to put gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting into real effect.

 

The WOC continues to be placed under the purview of the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, and positions itself only as an advisory body. It is not high-level enough and lacks resources to perform its role and promote gender mainstreaming. There is a lack of transparent and consistent mechanisms to ensure that the Gender Mainstreaming Checklist will be institutionalized in the government policy-making process.

 

POLITICAL PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN

We are pleased that the Committee had concerned about the discriminative nature against women of functional constituency at the last session, and this defect is still exist and also happen in the Election Committee of the Chief Executive election. The people of Hong Kong are clearly discontented by these unfair election systems and that is why the Umbrella Revolution is happening now to fight for genuine universal suffrage and civil nomination.

 

However, women's rights to participate in the social movement are threatened by violence condoned by the police. In the movement, numerous female protesters were sexually assaulted and threatened by counter-protesting thugs, yet some reports show that the police released alleged assailants and was gender-blind when handling female protesters. The police's neglect of duties discourages female protesters from exercising their civil and political rights.

 

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Domestic Violence against Women: As for domestic violence, the long requested Domestic Violence Court is still nowhere. And the classification of domestic violence case adopting by the police does not reflect the seriousness of the problem in reality. Further, the Government failed to provide gender sensitivity training to social workers or shelter workers and thus fail to make these services friendly to sexual and gender minorities.

 

Sexual Violence against Women: In Hong Kong, the general public lack of knowledge about sexual violence. The prevalence of rape myths has also reinforced discrimination against women who encounter sexual violence, which results in the low reporting rate of sexual violence related crimes. We urge that the HK Government should devise long term measures to promote the ideas and practices of mainstreaming anti-sexual violence and gender perspective into formal education and community. Further, the existing relevant legislation of sexual violence in Hong Kong has failed to provide sufficient protection for sexual violence victims. We therefore urge the HK Government to adopt the law reform proposed by the Law Reform Commission and provide the schedule and timeframe in the implementation of the said law reform. Finally, the only Government funded rape crisis centre 'CEASE' has not adopted a hospital-based model recommended by World Health Organization. We strongly urge that the HK Government should establish or support a real "one-stop" rape crisis center which offers a single location at local hospital at which all services can be accessed.

 

FEMINIZATION OF POVERTY

Majority of the poverty population in Hong Kong is women. With limited public resources such as childcare services, many unpaid carers are forced to accept unstable and low income casual work, which is excluded by the unreasonable continuous contract rule in the existing Employment Ordinance (so called "4.18" definition) and thus excluded from different labor welfare. And both unpaid carers and causal workers are not adequately protected by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes and thus poverty extends to their elderly life.

 

So, to abolish "4.18" and provide employment welfare proportionally to part-time worker, provide accessible child care service and carers' allowance, also to implement the universal retirement protection scheme are key solution to improve the situation.

 

MARGINALIZED GROUPS OF WOMEN

 

Migrant Domestic Workers: Hong Kong Government completely ignored the recommendations by the Committee from the last two sessions irresponsibly, so it is significant for the Committee to follow up.

 

New Arrival Women from Mainland: Multiple discriminations against new arrival women are still prevailing in Hong Kong since the current Discrimination Ordinance is excluding immigration status, so the Government should start the legislation as soon as possible.

 

Sex Workers: We are concerned that the current legal definition of "vice establishment" forces sex workers to work alone in an isolated setting, and exposes their personal safety to robbery, rape and even murder by their clients. We urge the Government to redefine the legal definition of 'vice establishment' to allow at least two women to work together in one single premise for mutual protection.

 

Women in Sexual and Gender Minorities: Lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women need an anti-discrimination law to protect themselves. One year ago, a young lesbian killed herself and her last words were: "I feel sad about being discriminated".

 

Moreover, transgender women have to undergo invasive sterilization surgeries to legally change their gender. We need to stop forced sterilization by immediately removing these inhuman surgery requirements and enacting a gender recognition law.

 

Women with Disabilities: Women with intellectual differences have no freedom, no independence and no autonomy. They have no choice for leisure, dating and having a family. They need respect and their rights should be protected.

 

We are also concerned that the government do not have any statistics of the disability population. We asked them to include it in the last census and were rejected. We urge the government to provide updated statistics so as to plan for long-term policies to improve the medical and employment needs of women with disabilities.

 

Women and Girls in Ethnic Minorities: Ethnic minorities girls in Hong Kong face serious difficulties in education, including the lack of a "Chinese as a Second Language" policy and de facto racial and intersecting racial-gender segregation.

 

Women and Girls among Asylum-Seekers and Refugees: We also urge the Government to conduct proper studies to assess the needs of refugee women and girls and their families, and to replace the in-kind support system with a more dignified, flexible and proper one.

 

Last but not least, for this platform to fulfill its original function, we would suggest the Committee to make sure that the informal briefing and lunch briefing are NGO-friendly, especially in relation to security issues and making clear the differentiation between NGOs and GONGOs.

 

Thank you very much!

 

 

Organizations of the NGO Delegation from Hong Kong, China:

  • Chosen Power (People First Hong Kong)
  • Association of Women with Disabilities Hong Kong
  • Action for Reach Out
  • The Association for the Advancement of Feminism
  • Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women
  • Hong Kong Women's Coalition on Equal Opportunities
  • Pink Alliance
  • The Democratic Party
  • Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor