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What problems of Tajiks are the CEDAW Committee concerned about?

Infor 30 years now, Tajikistan has been periodically reporting to UN on how things are going with gender equality in our country. In general, according to the reports, everything is not so bad – attempts to improve the situation of women are indeed bearing fruit, but there are a number of issues that this international organization asks the country to pay even more attention to.

The abolition of prohibited professions for women and the protection of the rights of people living with HIV are among the most important topics on the list of recommendations.

By the way, Tajikistan is reporting for a reason – we ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1993, which is automatic imposes certain obligations on us.

They concern almost all spheres of life: from politics to access to social services. For each of these points, and there are at least 15 of them, our country periodically receives recommendations from the CEDAW Committee to improve the situation.

Unwomanly labor

One of the first topics that catches the eye in the Committee’s comments is the Labor Code of the Republic of Tajikistan, which contains an article prohibiting employers from hiring women for heavy and underground work.

The republic has its own justification for this, which at first glance is quite logical: in Tajikistan, in this way they protect women from harmful working conditions, because the prohibited list includes 326 ​​types of work includes metalworking, oil/gas production, well drilling, and even chemical production, which can indeed be not only difficult, but also dangerous for the female body.

But the Committee, in accordance with Article 11 of CEDAW, asks Tajikistan to reconsider this issue, and according to human rights activist Dilrabo Samadova, this recommendation is based on the main value of this Convention – the equality of women and men.

“We must understand that hazardous types of work are dangerous not only for women, but also for men. That is, this concern that our country is talking about should concern everyone, regardless of the person’s gender. This is what the CEDAW Committee is trying to convey. Moreover, some of the work from this list has already been, one might say, machined, which means women don’t even have to lift anything heavy,” explains human rights activist Dilrabo Samadova.

Judging by7 periodic report of Tajikistan, which was presented to the CEDAW Committee at the end of December last year, the country has nevertheless taken up the solution to this issue – in 2020, a working group was created, which over the next two years worked to improve regulations, and this also affected the country’s Labor Code.

It is emphasized that draft laws on amendments and additions have been sent to the Executive Office of the President for further discussion.

Meanwhile, as experts note, Tajikistan is not the first and not the last country that inherited from the USSR this list of professions prohibited for women. Until recently, the question was relevant, including for Kazakhstan – until October 2021, the list included 219 professions and types of work that were considered traditionally male.

Dilrabo SamadovaPhoto: Radio Ozodi

Before the abolition of this list, the employer officially did not have the right to hire women for blasting, foundry, high-altitude and welding work.

Neighboring Kyrgyzstan is also now considering this issue, because here women cannot work in 446 professions. They are even prohibited from driving intercity buses with a capacity of more than 14 people, working as loaders and drivers on certain types of special transport, cutting wood and digging by hand.

At the end of May 2023, the Constitutional Court of Kyrgyzstan announced that it would consider repealing the list of prohibited professions.

Tajikistan, as well as other countries, The CEDAW Committee justified its recommendation as follows: the list should be canceled so that any restrictions are applied not to women in general, but on the basis of individual abilities.  

Discrimination due to HIV

In Tajikistan, the first case of HIV infection was registered 32 years ago. Now there are just over 15 thousand people with the immunodeficiency virus in the country, and the country has managed to do a lot over the past 30 years to protect their rights. UN agencies also helped her in this, in particular,UNAIDS – Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.

The CEDAW Committee also pays special attention to this issue and continues to make recommendations to the country to improve the situation in accordance with Articles 2, 12 and 14 of the Convention, but from the point of view of the impact of the problem specifically on women, since, according to the UN, they are in this story are the most vulnerable link, and if it is a traditional society, then the burden of discrimination against women weighs even more heavily.

According to the words of Takhmina Khaidarova, a representative of the Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS, in this regard, for example, there are stereotypical arguments in the country, including , that only women of easy virtue can get HIV. Although, she assures, among women with HIV in Tajikistan, there are more housewives (infected from their husbands), and not sex workers.

Takhmina KhaidarovaPhoto from ewna.org

According to official data, at the end of March 2023, 5,569 women with HIV were registered and of the total, only 7% were representatives of the sex industry.

Thus, discrimination based on stereotypes continues to exist in some places. And this despite the fact that the country right now has about 10 laws, codes, strategies and national programs aimed at protecting the rights of people living with HIV and eradicating discrimination in their lives.

Therefore, the CEDAW Committee is confident that Tajikistan must continue to improve its approaches in this regard, and laws play an important role in this.

Thus, the Committee draws the country’s attention to article 125 of the country’s Criminal Code, which provides for liability for the transmission of HIV/AIDS, and which does not at all contribute to the eradication of discrimination.

This recommendation is in line with the last paragraph 2 of Article CEDAW, which states that the State Party undertakes to “repeal all provisions of its criminal law that constitute discrimination against women.”

“The Committee recommends that the transmission of HIV/AIDS be decriminalized and that government regulations of September 25, 2018 and October 1, 2004, prohibiting HIV-positive women from obtaining a medical degree, adopting a child, or being a legal guardian be repealed,” the Committee’s Concluding Observations on CEDAW said. .

At the same time, the UN is confident that Tajikistan should expand access for all women and girls, including those living with HIV/AIDS, especially in rural and remote areas, to quality medical services, create a mechanism to ensure that children born from HIV-infected mothers received breast milk substitutes from birth until final diagnosis of HIV.

And also strengthen the provision of age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health services and expand access to affordable and safe modern contraceptives.

The full version of The Final Recommendations of the Committee on CEDAW in Tajikistan, which relate not only to issues of HIV/AIDS or prohibited professions for women, can be found at by clicking on the active link.

The latest National Report of Tajikistan on the implementation of CEDAW contains responses to the Committee’s comments, as well as a report on the work done from 2018 to 2022 to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in the country .

Officially, the country will present its next report at the 87th session of the Committee in January-February 2024.

The material was prepared as part of the activities of the Ray of Light Initiative in Tajikistan – a Joint EU-UN initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls, with technical assistance from UN Women www. unwomen.org

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of UN Women, the UN, their affiliated organizations or the position of the European Commission.

Source : Asia-Plus