Committee on Elimination of Discrimination
30 September 2013
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of the Republic of Moldova on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Presenting the report Sergiu Sainciuc, Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Protection and Family of the Republic of Moldova, outlined progress made since ratification of the Convention in 1994, including in national strategies, legislative reform and an increase in women in decision-making roles, including Parliament, Government and the Diplomatic Service. The 2006 Law on Ensuring Equal Opportunities for Women and Men provided for the prosecution of cases of discrimination in courts, while the Government-funded Plan of Action to Ensure Gender Equality 2010-2015, amongst other activities led awareness-raising and practical training on women’s rights. The law prohibiting domestic violence was amended in 2012. The Government worked to help victims of trafficking in persons, given the Republic of Moldova was a country of origin for migrants and trafficked victims alike. Priority areas for the Government included combating poverty among women, extending opportunities for women in employment, banishing stereotypes and achieving equal pay and equality in pension provision.
Committee Members commended the delegation for the many reforms they had implemented, particularly given the Republic of Moldova’s economic and political transition. They asked the delegation questions about domestic violence, trafficking in persons and women migrant workers, particularly those in the informal sector. The situation of Roma women and girls, and discrimination faced by women with disabilities and older women were also discussed, as was sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion and teenage pregnancy. The situation in the Gagauzia autonomy and Transnistria region was also discussed.
Nicole Ameline, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue and encouraged it to take all necessary measures to address the various recommendations of the Committee, for the benefit of all women and girls in the country.
Mr. Sainciuc, in concluding remarks, said the Republic of Moldova had ratified almost all international human rights treaties, and it hoped that with the assistance of the non-governmental organizations present today in the room, the Republic of Moldova would be able to develop a legislative framework to implement true gender equality.
The delegation included representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, the Directorate for Ensuring Gender Equality and Preventing Violence Against Women, the General Inspectorate of the Police, the Centre for Combating Trafficking in Persons, and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Moldova to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will reconvene on Wednesday, 2 October at 10 a.m. when it will start its review of the combined seventh and eighth periodic report of Colombia.
The combined fourth and fifth periodic report of the Republic of Moldova can be read here: (CEDAW/C/MDA/4-5).
Presentation of the Report
SERGIU SAINCIUC, Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Protection and Family of the Republic of Moldova, recalled that the Republic of Moldova ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 1994 and said the combined report was developed with the participation of both local and national Government and civil society stakeholders and set out how the Government had taken on board the Committee’s recommendations following the review of its last report. Outlining progress made, Mr. Sainciuc said the National Development Strategy for 2008-2011 for the first time included gender equality issues. The number of women in decision-making roles had increased: today five of the 21 Members of Cabinet were women, two of whom were Deputy Ministers - previously only one Cabinet Minister was a woman; more than 18 per cent of candidates at the 2011 local elections were women; and following the 2010 elections 19 women were elected to Parliament. In the Diplomatic Service nine out of 27 Ambassadors were women, as were two of the three Counsellors. A 40 per cent quota had been imposed for women in political parties and leadership roles.
The 2006 Law on Ensuring Equal Opportunities for Women and Men set out the criteria on which discrimination could be judged, including race, gender, age, political convictions, cultural and other areas. The law allowed for courts to prosecute cases of discrimination and award damages to victims. Other legislative reform had been made in the areas of education and employment and included amendments to the Criminal Code on other violations of equality, and to the Civil Procedural Code to provide that court cases on issues of discrimination were exempt from the State tax. The Plan of Action to Ensure Gender Equality 2010 - 2015, for the first time in 2013 received finance from the State budget. In 2012 a gender audit was carried out on the National Agency on Employment and the Central Electoral Commission. A cycle of practical training seminars were carried out in 2012 for all gender policy units in Ministries. Awareness-raising training was given in 2012 to local authority representatives on the human rights of children and women. The law on military personnel had been amended to ensure that women in the military service received paid maternity leave and partial leave to care for children up to three years of age. Likewise men in the military were now entitled to paternity leave.
Mr. Sainciuc said there had been problems with practically implementing the law prohibiting domestic violence, so in 2012 the law was amended to improve prosecution rates and better protect victims, as well as to harmonize the law with the European Convention on the Prevention of Violence Against Women. A new institutional mechanism to prevent domestic violence included training of national and local specialists. Furthermore 19 regional centres for victims had been opened that also provided social support. Regarding trafficking in persons, the Republic of Moldova was an origin country, and the Government provided assistance to victims. There was still much work to be done, Mr. Sainciuc said. Government priorities included combating poverty among women, particularly for women migrants, and extending opportunities for women, especially in employment stereotypes and achieving work-life balance. The average male wage was higher than the average female wage, which had an effect on the average pension value. The mechanisms to overcome those problems were not yet fully functioning, but working together with non-governmental organizations the Government would overcome the challenges.
Questions from the Experts
An Expert noted that following its economic and political transition, the Republic of Moldova had made progress in the field of women’s rights. The Expert commended the new legal frameworks and action plans, and the ratification of several international treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol. Nevertheless the Republic of Moldova faced a number of difficulties today, not least being violence against women, which was manifested in several ways. How involved was civil society in combating discrimination against vulnerable populations? The Expert asked about geographical regions, including Transnistria, which she noted the Deputy Minister did not refer to in his presentation. It was noted that the delegation did not include any representatives of the Gagauzia autonomy and Transnistria region.
An Expert raised the situation of the Roma population, noting that the Government understood the specific difficulties that the Roma faced, as outlined in its action plan. However data clearly showed that Roma women were in a much worse situation than their male counterparts, for example in high-school drop-out rates.
There were many reports of widespread discrimination faced by both older women and women with disabilities, in areas such as housing, employment, healthcare and more, an Expert said, asking if there had been any court cases on the grounds of discrimination by disability or age. She also noted that there was no disaggregated data on women older than 50; the Government was due to hold a census in 2014 and that would be a good opportunity to collect that data. The Committee had received alarming reports of the institutionalization of women with disabilities, for example in psychiatric hospitals, who had suffered sexual abuse and were forced to undergo abortions, sometimes following rape by professionals working in those institutions. The institutionalization process itself was in contravention of the Convention. What was the Government doing about that?
The cultural system of guardianship which put women under the guardianship of her husband, was de facto, not official, but often prevented women from divorcing. It was the State’s responsibility to prevent that happening; was the Government aware of that phenomenon?
There were pervasive, stereotypical and negative attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender women that were apparently even enshrined in the law an Expert said. Furthermore, the new amendment to the Misdemeanour Law in effect prohibited the dissemination of information on conduct that was not in line with ‘family conduct’ as set out in the Family Code. Would the Government consider repealing those laws?
Response from the Delegation
The head of the delegation addressed issues of discrimination in employment, and spoke about maternity leave provisions. Payment was 30 per cent of the mother’s salary, and leave could be taken for up to three years. Women were also entitled to unpaid leave from three to six years per child. That was a very good benefit but in practice, when a woman took six years out of the labour force she lost her skills, and perhaps it would be better to reduce that period. It was an on-going discussion with social partners; however, the Government struggled to have a constructive dialogue with certain partners, such as the trade unions. Regarding the social rights of women who worked in the police or the military, the police had amended their legislation, but the military amendment was still pending. Eventually women working in the police and the military would have the same social rights as other women in the population, in line with the Convention.
Regarding the question of Gagauzia region, a delegation said it was a part of the Republic of Moldova. It would have been good to have a representative of those areas in the delegation but it would not have changed anything. There was a territorial reservation regarding Transnistria region, which was set out when the Republic of Moldova adopted the Convention. Joint mechanisms were in place with non-governmental organizations, although not with local authorities, to provide for social benefits, pension payments and internal migration, including to Transnistria.
A delegate clarified that all international treaties had been ratified with a reservation on the application for the region of Transnistria. At the same time, that region fell under the Republic of Moldova and its citizens were citizens of the Republic of Moldova. The Government was very grateful to Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human rights, who had written the first ever report on the human rights situation of people living in the region of Transnistria. The Government was currently looking at how to redress and improve their situation.
There was no discrimination over ethnic origin, the head of the delegation said. Turning to the situation of Roma people, he said that at the turn of the century there were around 20,000 ethnic Roma in the Republic of Moldova. A census was planned for 2014 that would reveal new figures. Activities to ensure equality for the Roma included a National Plan of Action and legislation. With assistance from the United Nations Development Programme, the Government carried out a study of all villages and towns where Roma lived, and found that Roma lived in around 43 locations. The Government and other donors funded 150 local mediators, acting as focal points for Roma communities, who acted to provide a link between the Roma and the Government structures, and to ensure school attendance, medical assistance, social security and all other rights. The focal points received training from specialists in various ministries.
Regarding the labour market for Roma, from the population of 20,000 Roma only 483 were job seekers. Ten per cent had jobs, 12 per cent had job-seekers or unemployment benefits. To be entitled to unemployment benefit you had to have worked at least nine months in the previous 24 months. Regarding housing, 700 housing units for socially vulnerable people, including Roma, were being built.
Regarding Roma children and education, school was fully-funded for Roma children. Furthermore, the Government wanted to install a 15 per cent quota for Roma people to attend university, which would also be fully funded. In 2011 figures showed that only half of the Roma children attended school. That figure had been reduced threefold, as 2013 figures now showed that only 39 children were not attending school. All Roma children were given financial assistance to buy school materials such as school clothes, although text books were already free. There were two boarding schools for Roma children, one for boys and one for girls. Those schools were being deinstitutionalized.
The delegate said that the Republic of Moldova had ratified the United Nations Convention on Social Inclusion and the Rights of People with Limited Capacities, in 2010. Speaking about the situation of women with disabilities, he said that also in 2010 the Parliament adopted a strategy on social inclusion of people with disabilities, followed by a law adopted last year. Today there were over 183,000 people with disabilities of whom 14,800 were children. Out of those 51 per cent were men and 49 per cent were women. Now, the system for people with disabilities was being reformed; people’s disabilities were classified by a percentage system. Centres to provide training and rehabilitation for people with disabilities were being set up. Sheltered and community housing, mobile teams, personal assistants for the severely disabled, and the RESPIRO system, were other services in place.
Concerning care for persons with disabilities, including children, a delegate said that more than 70,000 of people with disabilities had very serious disabilities, such as Cerebral Palsy, which meant they were bedbound or unable to work, and the Government was starting to fund personal assistants to care for them – increased funding in 2014 would allow for 100 more assistants. A recent study showed that in the Republic of Moldova some 80 per cent of women who had a child with disabilities looked after the child themselves. Those women generally did not work and did not have social benefits. Following the study, the Government introduced personal helpers to help share the caring work, which had a positive impact, in some cases helping the woman to be able to have a job, access social rights and a pension, and feel like a valued member of society.
Regarding social protection for older women, a delegate said all women should be able to be active throughout life and to receive complementary revenues. To that end the Government had taken measures to improve the pensions. The new law on ensuring equality entered into force on 1 January 2013.
A delegate noted that the Republic of Moldova had decriminalized homosexuality in 1996. In 2003, when the existing Criminal Code was developed, homosexuality was regarded as a form of depravity, a delegate explained. As a result, the decriminalization of homosexual relations was removed and as of last year, it was no longer considered a depravity in national legislation and was a separate category to forced sexual acts. Only sexual acts that involved physical or psychological coercion, or were forced, were criminalized. Homosexuality was not a punishable act.
Regarding trafficking in persons, a delegate said thanks to efforts made by the competent bodies in the Republic of Moldova, the State bodies were now much better equipped to identify victims. Non-governmental organizations could confirm that the statistics today showed that from 2008 the number of victims identified by civil society were less than those identified by law enforcement agencies.
Questions from Experts
An Expert commended the State party’s continued efforts to strengthen legislation, as well as its significant actions to improve gendered statistics. Turning to Government machinery, she asked how the Governmental Committee for Equality between Women and Men, and the Division for Gender Equality within the Ministry of Labour worked together effectively and coherently, and what level of coordination they had. The Expert also asked for more information on the Gender Focal Points working in specialized central public administrations.
Religious education in schools was also raised, how were parents informed about the religious education curriculum, and was human rights education given in schools?
The sexist representation of women in the media of the Republic of Moldova was a concern, an Expert said. How did the Government work with the media to sanction those sexist representations, including those of older women?
Regarding older women, the Republic of Moldova was an ageing nation. There should be an incentive to challenge the deep-rooted stereotypes of older women. The Committee had a recommendation on the stereotyping of older women, which it was concerned was affected service provisions to older women. Additionally older women were subject to abuse and other forms of discrimination.
Concerning gender-based violence, an Expert said despite the legal framework and advanced response by the Government to the issue, she was concerned about the very significant gaps between the law and its enforcement. She was concerned about certain forms of violence, such as rape, and about certain groups of marginalized women. She asked about the investigation and punishment of rape. The European Court of Human Rights recognized that the Republic of Moldova had inadequate prosecution of rape cases. The court-ordered protection orders for women victims of domestic violence were not adequate, especially as they could reportedly be delayed, sometimes as much as two weeks, and did not address the immediate danger threatened to a victim, the Expert said. Was a system of emergency protection orders planned? Finally, the Expert raised forced abortion and rape, particularly in psychiatric hospitals such as the Bali Institution. Forced abortions were reportedly common to prevent births unwanted by staff. Had those allegations been investigated?
Violence against women contributed to women and children’s vulnerability to both internal and external trafficking. The Expert noted that 80 per cent of Moldovan women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation were also victims of domestic violence and in many cases had also been sexually abused as children. Children in State institutions were also very vulnerable to trafficking. The draft law to prohibit the purchase of sexual services had been rejected by Parliament.
Given that prostitution was illegal in the Republic of Moldova and was condemned at all levels of society, it was surprising that the prohibition of the purchase of sexual services was not agreed in Parliament. Could the delegation please explain why?
Response from the Delegation
Regarding Government mechanisms for gender equality, the Committee for Equality between Women and Men had a very central position, a delegate explained. It met every three months, and had been in operation since 2009. The main objectives of the Committee were to promote national plans on gender equality, to support coordination of activities in connection with gender equality by all bodies, and to improve the situation of women in all walks of life and their status alongside men. In 2007 a Directorate was founded in the Ministry of Employment to coordinate gender-related activities in that field. There was also the Division for Gender Equality within the Ministry of Labour that was also founded in 2007 and worked to ensure parity within the workforce. Every Ministry had a Gender Unit.
Gender mainstreaming must be implemented as a reality, a delegate said. Therefore, each Ministry should have a gender unit which were in turn members of the Committee for Equality between Women and Men. In the regions and communes, there were often specialists working on gender equality, reporting to the Chair of the local council.
The National Human Rights Institution of the Republic of Moldova was accorded B Status under the Paris Principles in 2009. In order to ensure conformity the Government was reforming the National Human Rights Institution. A new law for that reform was adopted last month, which among other reforms would help persuade the public that the Institution was truly independent from the Government.
Regarding the large proportion of women living in poverty, the delegate said they had been reforming the social support for the past few years, including the pension values. There were proposals to increase the length of working life for men and women to 35 years, but the Constitutional Court declared that to be unconstitutional, and it was found that the pension had to be increased if the working life was also. Women had greater longevity than men, but had a lower pension than men due to the fact women were paid less than men. Reform of the pension system was a Government priority. The age of retirement for women was 57, and 62 for men, which was mandatory. Civil servants had the privilege to retire five years earlier than that, at 52 and 57, but in 2011 a law was adopted to equalize those ages. In the Republic of Moldova there were no limitations for men and women who wished to continue working beyond retirement age, their rights and their pensions were guaranteed.
Religious education was optional in schools, and was only carried out at the request of parents. The education system was currently being reformed on the basis of the principles of child-centred education, giving children all necessary skills for the development.
Regarding children left vulnerable from migration, a delegate said a particular group was children who were left behind in the country when their parents migrated, given that a large number of citizens, mostly women, were working in European Union and other countries, particularly Italy. Another vulnerable group of course were older people whose children went abroad and did not stay to look after them. In June 2013 parliament adopted a law on the social protection of children in a situation of risk. Under that law each commune had a specialist responsible for the rights of a child. There were many other services for children, as well as for abandoned parents. The delegate added that the National Strategy for Social Protection of the Family and Children was almost complete, and it was hoped it would be adopted soon.
The State was making an effort to combat stereotypes, particularly those affecting women and their rights. The media had enormous potential to carry out social change. The Government had passed a law that prohibited the use by advertising agencies of materials that were degrading, sexist or advocated violence. For TV and radio, there was a code that espoused gender equality, and the need to uphold the positive image of women and eliminate stereotypes from the media. With the help of United Nations Women the Government had carried out studies of the 10 printed media, while a self-assessment of seven forms of digital media was underway.
The Government had adopted a new provision on abortion and increased the period for legal abortions to 22 weeks, taking into account factors of social vulnerability. Abortions could only be carried out in compliance with the appropriate norms, and the woman concerned needed to be fully informed and consenting. If she had a disability the woman had to be made as fully aware as possible of the procedure and its consequences.
Regarding psychiatric care, a delegate said the Republic of Moldova was currently reforming that area. It had reduced the number of psychiatric hospitals to three and the number of beds by half. Those reforms were carried out in cooperation with the Ombudsman and human rights organizations, to implement real protection measures for psychiatric patients.
Concerning domestic violence, a delegate said it was a difficult area because not all courts could provide injunctions within the desired timeframe. A new law had been drafted to provide for a new type of emergency injunction that could be granted by the police in domestic violence cases.
Answering the question about women victims of trafficking in persons, a delegate explained that in most cases victims were helped by law enforcement officials who ensured they received the best levels of physical, psychological, social and other support, by being referred to non-governmental organizations and other bodies. Almost all of the victims of sexual exploitation were referred to the national system, and were entitled to psychological treatment.
Questions by the Experts
The Committee was aware of the difficulties faced by the Republic of Moldova following its transition process and was thankful for the Government’s openness about the poor representation of women in public life and their overrepresentation in the poorest areas of society, an Expert said. She expressed concern that the Government deeply misunderstood what was meant by ‘temporary special measures’ and that it was missing a key opportunity. In addition, the quotas mentioned for decision-making decisions had still not been enforced; and were still only draft bills. That delay defeated the purpose of temporary special measures, which was to speed up the process in reaching substantial equality.
The Republic of Moldova did have educated women in the workforce, possibly even more than men, but the women were not working in the key, decision-making decisions. How could the Government invest more in training women and in empowering them? The Expert also asked why the 30 per cent quota had not worked; what was the blockage, especially with regard to the forthcoming elections.
The report failed to provide data and statistics disaggregated by gender and ethnicity, or data on women and children in education, an Expert complained, saying the Committee hoped that data would be included in the State party’s next report. What Government policies had been adopted to encourage more female students to sign up to non-traditional courses, such as science, technology or engineering? The Expert also asked about school drop-out rates among girls – especially rural girls, Roma and persons with disabilities - and what the Government was doing to encourage girls to complete their education.
Response by the Delegation
Concerning women in decision-making positions, the head of the delegation said he was convinced that there should be many more women holding the highest levels of posts in society, as they had a lot of energy, education and ability to improve the overall situation for women. Every woman had the capacity to train for a profession. In the elections there were situations where there were women candidates but the husband prohibited his wife from standing for election. The authorities had to get permission from the husband to allow his wife to stand, as he was the head of the family. Parliamentary elections would take place in 2014, and local elections in 2015.
There was a 30 per cent quota in the Electoral Code, said the head of delegation, adding that he would like to see it raised to 40 per cent. Looking at the lists of candidates, there were women but their names appeared at the end of the list, not the top. That was one of the special measures to ensure real equality. There had been major debates on how best to advance women in the political structures, the delegate said, on subjects including a minimum quota.
Unfortunately, the Parliament had yet to be convinced into adopting temporary special measures on quotas as outlined by the Committee. The draft legislation had to be amended, there had to be public debates with all stakeholders, and the amendments to the legislation had to be made carefully, in the hope they would be adopted.
Questions by Experts
Unemployment was very high among women, an Expert said. There was a large informal working sector where women worked without any social security, formal wages, paying taxes or making pension contributions. Furthermore there was a large gender pay gap where men were paid more than women for doing work of equal value. Those were serious structural problems: what was the State party doing about them? The Expert noted that although there was legislation to prohibit discrimination in employment, such as at times of pregnancy, or sexual harassment, but they did not appear to be enforced. Women in the workforce were heroines. They worked hard for low pay and low job security, often abroad, to provide for their families. Had the State party considered ratifying International Labour Organization Convention 189, on domestic workers?
The Expert questioned whether the maternity and paternity leave provisions of six years for women (three years paid 30 per cent of the salary, three years unpaid) and of two weeks for men were the best way.
Regarding migrants, an Expert asked about migrant workers, and specifically about women who emigrated then returned to the Republic of Moldova. The Expert said a very large proportion of Moldovans emigrated for work. In many cases a woman earned more than her husband while she was working abroad, then on return to her family faced violence and sometimes rape, from her husband.
Regarding statistics, a delegate said they were produced according to international standards and were broken down by age, gender and so on. There were no limitations in that respect.
Response by the Delegation
Regarding young persons in education, a delegate said there was a need for more advice on careers for students, to encourage them to study in fields where there would be more jobs. Unfortunately, lots of people had studied in fields such as banking and politics in recent years, and there was a shortage of people studying agriculture, leading to a shortage of people working in that field. Regarding school drop-out, both boys and girls tended to miss classes, but boys more than girls, who were more diligent.
Regarding migration, every month millions of dollars were sent to households in the Republic of Moldova in remittances from the diaspora. That money was spent on many things, including education for their children. There was a scheme to encourage trained young people to return home to the Republic of Moldova, as the Government believed if it had invested in educating young people it should benefit from them as skilled workers. Recently the Government had managed to encourage around 45 young skilled workers to return to work in the Republic of Moldova. The majority of Moldovans who moved abroad for work were from rural areas, where unemployment rates were highest.
Current unemployment rates stood at 4.8 per cent for women and for men it was 7.1 per cent. The overall number of unemployed people showed most jobs were in the cities, while labourers lived in rural areas, therefore the Government wanted to direct foreign investment into rural areas rather than the cities. There had been no complaints by a pregnant woman about not being hired, a delegate said.
The Republic of Moldova had ratified over 40 International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions all regarding labour conventions, and submitted up to 10 reports to the ILO annually on ratified and un-ratified conventions. The Republic of Moldova was one of the few countries that had ratified ILO Convention 197, on the social protection of migrants and members of their family.
The informal employment sector was large and represented about one and a half million workers, with approximately 800,000 working on contracts. A large number of people worked in households and had an income, but unfortunately did not have a contract and would not receive a pension further down the line, as they had not paid their national insurance contributions. The delegate noted that the Government provided that migrant workers who decided to retire in another country could still receive their pension. Migrant workers could make voluntary social security payment to secure the pension later in life.
Regarding childcare leave, statistics showed that 97 per cent of people taking the leave were women, as men in the Republic of Moldova did not participate in raising their children, even for just for a couple of weeks. The Government needed to look into how to encourage men to share the burden of raising their children, and was introducing a paid two week paternity leave allowance for fathers. The Government believed that if it could encourage men to take the paternity leave it would change stereotypical attitudes to child-rearing.
Questions by the Experts
An Expert raised the issue of abortion and said it seemed to be used as a method of contraception, especially in the Transnistria region which had very high abortion rates, even among teenagers. There seemed to be a legal void regarding late-term abortions, as seen in one particular case where a woman was jailed for 12 years, and served five years, for having a late-term abortion. How did the Government evaluate the risk that access to abortion may be restricted if its currently generous provisions were interpreted more strictly, especially in view of pressures from the Orthodox Church and its conservative outlook? Furthermore, would the Government consider bearing the costs of abortion and contraception?
In view of the high rate of adolescent pregnancies and abortions, particularly in rural areas, did the State party intend to introduce sexual education into schools, as recommended by various treaty bodies? Health services were difficult to access and of poor quality, compounded by a shortage of healthcare personnel.
Agriculture played a very important part in the Republic of Moldova as it made up 60 per cent of the economy. Could the delegation elaborate on the situation of rural women, including with regard to land ownership and their access to credit, including micro-credit schemes and bank loans.
Response by the Delegation
Turning to healthcare, a delegate said that thanks to international organizations, medical services for children and women had been greatly improved. The best cooperation in the Republic of Moldova was between the medical institutions of Moldova and Transnistria and much support had been received from the World Health Organization in terms of experts. The Global Fund had given the Republic of Moldova around $20 million to combat HIV, TB and Malaria over the last few years.
The Republic of Moldova’s legislation on abortion had been approved by the World Health Organization. There were family planning centres, over 30,000 centres for reproductive health. In cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund a programme titled ‘safe abortion in later pregnancies’ had been launched. Since 2009 it had been possible to have out-patient abortions, by all methods, whether medicinal, vacuum or D&C, and non-intrusive methods of abortion, such as medicinal, were on the increase. Clarifying the payment system, a delegate said if a doctor decides that a woman needed an abortion, then the State would pay for it. If a woman decided that she wanted an abortion for her own reasons, then she would pay for the procedure.
Concerning teenage pregnancies, a delegate said recent statistics showed that 135,000 children had one parent working abroad. For example, a girl separated from her mother since the age of 10 had a higher risk of teenage pregnancy, so the Ministry for Health had opened up family-planning clinics specifically aimed at young people, from 10 years old to 18 years old. Those clinics provided various services and were staffed by family doctors, social workers, nurses and other specialists. That and other measures helped prevent unnecessary abortions. Formerly approximately 50 per cent of pregnancies were aborted, but today that figure had fallen to 15 per cent, thanks to the implementation of those programmes. The delegate also said child mortality had fallen to less than one in 10,000.
The Republic of Moldova had become a leader in maternity healthcare and provision of contraception, and experts from Russia and Ukraine often visited in order replicate them in their own countries. There was little discrimination in terms of medical care and the Roma people received the same access.
The delegate said that medical corruption was a problem, due to low salaries – an average of $500 per month for a doctor – and although salaries had been tripled they still needed to be higher. Some 2,500 doctors had left the Republic of Moldova to work abroad, the same problem was happening with teachers. The Republic of Moldova needed to complete its reforms and get those people back.
The law on domestic violence covered both rural and urban women, and provided for a multidisciplinary approach, encompassing both social and medical services. Multidisciplinary teams were in place in each commune and region and any woman who was a victim of domestic violence could contact one of the teams for help. One of the seven regional centres was specifically for women in Transnistria. There was a national shelter for victims of domestic violence and trafficking, and access was open to anyone, space permitting.
Regarding rural women, a delegate said there was no discrimination in terms of their access to services, such as bank loans or credit. Formerly over 50 per cent of agricultural workers were women, but today that figure had dropped to 30 per cent.
Questions from the Experts
Regarding family law, an Expert commended the State party for amending its law which formally provided that 10 years was the marriageable age for girls and boys. However, the phenomena of child marriages at extremely young ages, often 14 years and even younger, still persisted within Roma communities. Those forced marriages of girls, without consent, as consent was impossible at such a young age, were not even registered, thus leaving them without any official status in society. The perception seemed to be to allow the Roma to have their own laws and not permit law enforcement officials to intervene.
An Expert said that although the inheritance law had been reformed, was it possible that in practice a woman still did not inherit the marital property and other assets upon the death of her husband? The economic rights of women who were not married should be safeguarded, an Expert said, saying she was deeply concerned that women in cohabiting or de facto relationships were not protected or recognized by the State. What rights did children born out of wedlock have?
Response from the Delegation
A delegate explained that everybody had to abide by national legislation, even the Roma, and early marriage was prohibited and punishable. There were no instances of forced marriage of children. What worried the Government more than any other issue was that 50 per cent of marriages ended in divorce. What was the point of having lots of marriages if half of them failed? There was no difficulty in people living together outside of marriage, and special legislation provided social assistance to vulnerable families, whether the parents were officially married or not. Children born out of wedlock received exactly the same assistance from the State, including child benefit.
The enforcement of the payment of child support for children whose parents did not live together was carried out by the courts; it was a criminal offence not to pay. The amount was 25 per cent of a person’s salary for one child, 35 per cent for two, and so on. If the non-paying parent had fled abroad then the State would pay the child support.
On the question of inheritance a delegate said there was absolutely no discrimination between men and women in practice. Women often had greater inheritance rights since they had the children, and in cases of divorce women usually had greater rights to a marital home because they usually stayed as the child’s main carer.
Children in years five to nine had “life skills” education as part of the curriculum, as part of their civic education, in an age-appropriate manner, a delegate confirmed. Children from year 10 upwards had more in-depth “life skills” education that covered family life, parent-craft, financial life and all aspects of gender equality, including issues of domestic violence and trafficking in persons.
NICOLE AMELINE, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue. The Committee commended the State party for its efforts and encouraged it to take all necessary measures to address the various recommendations of the Committee, for the benefit of all women and girls in the country.
SERGIU SAINCIUC, Deputy Minister of Labour, Social Protection and Family, promised that the Government would give all proposals and recommendations careful consideration. The delegation would provide additional information on the studies carried out and statistics disaggregated by gender and age. At this transitional time the Republic of Moldova depended upon financial resources for the implementation of any new policy. It had ratified almost all international human rights treaties, and it hoped that with the assistance of the non-governmental organizations present today in the room the Republic of Moldova would be able to develop a legislative framework to implement true gender equality.
The Committee’s concluding observations will be made available at http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=812&Lang=en on Monday 21 October.
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