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消除对妇女歧视委员会审议特立尼达和多巴哥的报告(部分翻译)

消除对妇女歧视委员会

2016年7月16日

消除对妇女歧视委员会今天审议了特立尼达和多巴哥关于其落实《消除对妇女一切形式歧视公约》条款情况的第四至第七次定期报告。

总理办公室国务大臣(性别与儿童事务)艾安娜•韦伯斯特-罗伊(Ayanna Webster-Roy)在特立尼达和多巴哥通过视频呈交报告时表示,自1990年批准《消除对妇女一切形式歧视公约》以来,公约对指导特立尼达和多巴哥制定所需法律和政策及文化变革以促进性别平等有所帮助。虽然关于性别与发展的国家政策仍有待完成,但政府一直在为支持性别平等和支持妇女权利(包括健康、教育、儿童护理和就业的权利)而建立一个法律和制度框架。消除基于性别的暴力尤其是家庭暴力行为仍然是优先事项。关于家庭暴力行为的立法仍在审议之中,以确保获得司法救助,而2016年4月启用的中央登记处提供了监控家庭暴力更快速有效的方式,采用更有针对性的干预并最终减少家庭暴力。特立尼达和多巴哥正在协商结婚年龄,有望在近期向议会呈交一项将男女结婚年龄提高至18岁的法案。

委员会专家们积极地提到了改善妇女状况的许多措施,并称赞特立尼达和多巴哥制定了国家性别和发展政策。然而,主要的障碍在于未能通过该政策并进而落实性别政策框架,这一框架不仅是为了负责性别平等和公正问题的不同机构的建立与协作,也是为了采取行动改变对妇女有害的态度和行为,解决男女在政治参与和决策中的不公现象。专家询问了修改歧视性法律的时间表、在国家立法中纳入歧视妇女完整定义的意愿以及加速实现生活各方面性别平等的临时特殊措施。基于性别的暴力是一个令人深感担忧的问题,因为2015年被谋杀的所有女性中有36%为家庭暴力的受害者。专家还讨论了结婚年龄和早婚、少女怀孕率之高、确保警察工作和行为的性别敏感需求以及其他议题。

韦伯斯特-罗伊女士在总结发言中重申承诺,表示将谨慎考虑委员会的建议。

特立尼达和多巴哥代表团包括在特立尼达和多巴哥通过视频参与的总理办公室性别平等司、检察长和法律事务部、卫生部的代表们以及一位对话期间在现场的特立尼达和多巴哥常驻联合国日内瓦办事处代表团的代表。

国别审评将在此进行网络直播:http://www.treatybodywebcast.org

特立尼达和多巴哥是委员会计划于第六十四届会议审议的最后一个国家。委员会将于7月22日(周五)下午4点举行下一次公开会议并结束会议。

Report


The combined fourth to seventh periodic reports of Trinidad and Tobago can be read here: CEDAW/C/TTO/4-7.

Presentation of the Report


AYANNA WEBSTER-ROY, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs), introducing the reports via a video link from Trinidad and Tobago, said that since its ratification in 1990, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women had been instrumental in guiding Trinidad and Tobago in addressing laws and policies, as well as the cultural change needed to advance gender equality and equity. The country was undergoing uncertain economic times due to falling energy prices, but gender-related issues continued to be a priority, also reflected in the fact that the Gender Affairs portfolio for the implementation of the national gender programme now existed under the Office of the Prime Minister. The National Policy on Gender and Development, as a framework to addressing gender-related issues, was being finalized but the process was delayed because of the concerns by some sectors of society, which required further consultations and negotiations. The Government, which had come into office in September 2015, had agreed to substantially adopt the 2012 document with modifications and certain additions such as climate change. Notwithstanding the absence of the policy, the Government had proceeded with addressing many of the articles of the Convention by building a framework to support gender equality and to uphold the rights of women, including in health, education, child care and employment. Measures had also been taken to incorporate the provisions of the Convention within domestic legislation, and Trinidad and Tobago continued to review the laws that still contained provisions that were discriminatory against women.

Eliminating gender-based violence and, in particular, domestic violence continued to be a priority, and a review of the domestic violence legislation to ensure access to justice had continued. Domestic violence legislation had been introduced in 1991 and had been replaced with a more comprehensive piece of legislation in 1999. The Act had then been reviewed in 2014-2015, which provided recommendations for the reform of the substantive law and for the more effective implementation of the law. The Government recognized the need for a comprehensive system for the collection, analysis and dissemination of relevant and accurate data on domestic violence, and had launched the Central Registry in April 2016, to provide a more efficient and effective method of monitoring domestic violence with a view to more targeted interventions and ultimately its reduction. The preparations for the commission of three shelters for victims of domestic violence were ongoing.

Ms. Webster-Roy said that in June 2016, public consultations had started with a view of harmonising the age of marriage across the four statutes with the age of consent to sexual activity, which the Children Act 2012 set to 18 years for sexual penetration. Trinidad and Tobago was a multi-cultural, multi-religious society and the different marriage acts were an example of the efforts of the State to manage diverse cultural and religious demands for recognition and inclusion in the Nation-State. The consensus that had emerged so far, and which would guide the drafting of the legislation, was that the age of marriage should be increased to 18 years for both boys and girls. It was expected that a bill amending the four marriage statutes would be taken to the Parliament shortly. The National Strategic Action Plan on Gender-Based and Sexual Violence aimed to foster zero tolerance to gender-based violence, and dealt with prevention, protection, prosecution, punishment of gender-based violence and provision of redress.

Questions from Experts


With regards to the legislative framework in Trinidad and Tobago, Committee Experts recalled their earlier recommendation to incorporate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to develop an inventory of laws which were discriminatory to women, with the view of their revision. What was the status of the implementation of those recommendations, what was the timeframe for the revision of those laws, and what were the intentions of the Government with regards to incorporating in the domestic legislation a comprehensive definition of discrimination against women?

The delegation was asked to clarify the effectiveness of the Police Authority to receive and deal with complaints, and to inform on the plans to establish a national human rights institution that would fully comply with the Paris Principles, considering that the Office of the Ombudsman set up in 1977 only carried status C.

An Expert remarked that the policy framework for gender equality was as important as a legislative framework and that one ought to reinforce the other. Trinidad and Tobago was commended for the development of the national gender equality policy. However, it was unfortunate that 14 years later, the policy had not yet been adopted, and the policy had also seen several versions. What was the status of the adoption and implementation of the gender equality policy?

Replies by the Delegation


Responding to the questions related to the incorporation of the Convention and the setting of the legislative agenda, a delegate explained that every year, when the legislative agenda was set, issues affecting discrimination or rights of women were prioritized, taking into account on what was happening nationally and internationally. For example, this year the priority was given to addressing issues of trafficking in persons, including women and children, and the implementation of the law.

The Gender equality policy was before the Cabinet and it was not clear when it would be adopted. Some aspects of the policy were being implemented nevertheless, such as gender based budgeting and gender mainstreaming. Some issues with the adoption were related to the definitions contained in the policy, such as the definitions of gender, rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, or women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, with particular attention to abortion. The Government was committed to listening to all views in the society and to adopting the policy which would ensure that all women and girls were free from discrimination and violence.

There were mechanisms that protected human rights across the board, including the rights of women, namely the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Police Complaints Authority, and the Ombudsman’s Office. In 2012, the Government had undertaken a process to examine the requirements of establishing a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles.

It was explained that the legislative agenda, once adopted, was not rigid, and issues could be added or prioritised based on the events in the country. Such was the case with child marriage for example. The full legislative agenda was available on the webpage of the Parliament.

The definition of discrimination against women in accordance with the Convention was not specifically reflected in the national law, but there were specific pieces of legislation which dealt with discrimination against women; for example, the Equal Opportunities Act specifically prohibited discrimination based on sex and recognized sex-based discrimination was one of major grounds for redress. Trinidad and Tobago had repealed practically all statutes that discriminated against women; the two acts that still contained discriminatory provisions were the Widows and Orphans Act and the Industrial Relations Act. The Government was committed to reviewing the Industrial Relations Act and address the issue of domestic workers.

Questions from Experts


An Expert commended Trinidad and Tobago for the many steps taken to advance the situation of women and noted that the major setbacks included the inability to adopt a national gender policy, and the continued revisions and changes in the national gender machinery. The draft national gender policy would provide the framework for the establishment and coordination of various bodies with responsibility for gender equality and equity issues. Which were the bodies that regulated women empowerment and equality issues in Trinidad and Tobago, and how would they be coordinated and resourced? Could the delegation explain the negative impact on the rights and equality of women of reducing the full-fledged Ministry for Gender into a Gender Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s Office?

There seemed to be a lack of the understanding in Trinidad and Tobago of the nature and reach of temporary special measures and their broad scope in speeding up the implementation of the participation of women in specific spheres of life and society and thus speeding up gender equality. Trinidad and Tobago had made an attempt in 2010 to adopt some temporary special measures.

Replies by the Delegation


In the absence of a formal gender policy, a framework had been put in place to guide the implementation of some of its parts. The framework was being guided by the Gender Affairs Division in cooperation with civil society organizations and several other Ministries, while there were plans for the establishment of the Commission for Gender Equality as the key gender equality body. Concerning the impact of the transfer of the gender portfolio to the Office of the Prime Minister, a delegate said that there had been no changes in services provided to women. There were no temporary special measures in Trinidad and Tobago. The information on budgets and resources would be provided in writing.

In their follow-up questions, Experts asked for further information on the coordination strategy, monitoring and impact of gender training programmes, as well as temporary special measures.

Responding, the delegation said that at the moment, there were no pressing areas which would require the adoption of temporary special measures, but it was clear that, as the county was pressing forward in implementing the policy, such areas might emerge.

The Gender Affairs Division of the Office of the Prime Minister was the body which was in charge of coordinating all bodies of relevance to gender equality and issues in the country. Gender focal points were being currently established and trained in all Ministries; they would take the responsibility for gender mainstreaming and all other gender issues that would need to be infused in actions of the Ministries. Once the National Policy on Gender and Development was adopted, an Inter-ministerial Commission would be created to serve as a steering body for its implementation.

Concerning the impact of gender-related programmes, quite a bit of training on the issues of gender had been done, with all programmes containing indicators which would allow to measure over time the impact and effectiveness.

Questions from Experts


The National Policy on Gender and Development, not yet adopted, was supposed to be a document on the basis of which the Government would take actions to change attitudes and behaviours that were harmful to women. In the absence of the policy, which programmes were being taken to address gender based stereotypes, what were their impact and outcomes, and what was the impact of the Defining Masculinity Excellence Programme? What actions were being taken to address gender stereotypes in school and through the media?

The country’s four marriage acts set the age of marriage at 12, 14, and 16 year of age, and were thus in conflict with the country’s international obligations contained in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. What was being done to deal with societal resistance to the amendment of the age of marriage and what was the status of the planed review of the Marriage Act?

Was the Central Registry of Domestic Violence already operational after its launch in April 2016? What efforts were being undertaken to review the Sexual Offences Act and to establish a national registry of sexual offenders? The police still believed that domestic violence was a private matter. How was that attitude being dealt with to ensure that the police responded adequately and with respect for rights and dignity of victims? Considering that women were the majority of victims of domestic violence, what measures were in place to ensure that police training was gender-sensitive rather than gender-neutral?

Of all women murdered in 2015, some 36 per cent had been victims of domestic violence. Question was asked about special measures in place to deal with that form of gender-based violence.

Replies by the Delegation


The Central Registry of Domestic Violence had been launched in April 2016 and was already operational, on a pilot basis, said the delegation. It contained data on victims and perpetrators, and was guided by a Cabinet-appointed Committee and supported by a pre-designed software designed in the United States. The Sexual Offenders Act provided a framework for a sex offender registry; regulations for its setting up still needed to be made, and would be considered in the near future. The Gender Affairs Division was engaged in developing an action plan for gender sensitive training, which would aim to change attitudes and behaviour towards victims of domestic violence by the police, courts and service providers.

Public education campaigns were being rolled out to address gender stereotypes, and it was clear that one-off campaigns were not sufficient to change societal attitudes, but that rather a sustained effort and education to that end were needed.

Hindu, Christian and Muslim women organizations were very firm and passionate about the change in the age of marriage. Consultations would continue with the view of harmonizing the four marriage statutes. The 2012 Children Act had indeed raised the age of sexual activity and the age of consent to sexual penetration to 18 years of age. During its drafting, there was a lively societal debate on what it would mean for the age of marriage, and the Parliament had no other option but to exclude marriage from that provision. Constitutional amendments to the Children Act would have to be made in order to remove this exception.

There was a clear recognition that the majority of victims of domestic violence were women, which was why that aspect was mainstreamed in police training. There was a specific domestic violence unit within the police, whose officers were trained to investigate and deal with idiosyncrasies around domestic violence and assist victims throughout the process.

Questions from Experts


Trinidad and Tobago remained a source and transit country for trafficking in persons, particularly for women and girls. A number of steps had been taken to address that phenomenon, including the ratification of the Palermo Protocol, the setting up of an anti-trafficking commission, and the adoption of the Anti-Trafficking Act in 2011. A Committee Expert asked about specific gender measures to express needs and concerns of women and girls in the anti-trafficking measures and the legislative framework, and about measures to address the high rate of official complicity, which continued to hamper the effectiveness of measures to address trafficking in persons and prostitution.

There had been an increase in the number of victims of trafficking during the 2013-2015 period, with a majority being young women. The delegation was asked about the situation of prosecution and sanctioning of perpetrators, training of border officials, specialised support to victims of trafficking, including shelter access to justice and return to their country of origin.

Prostitution was illegal and prostitutes were penalised. What legal safeguards were in place to support women and girls who were forced into prostitution?

Replies by the Delegation


There had been one successful prosecution of a police officer involved in human trafficking. Statistics on the prosecution and sanctioning of perpetrators of trafficking in persons would be provided in writing. Labour inspectors were indeed trained in trafficking in persons in the context of forced labour and trafficking for labour exploitation. Victims of trafficking in persons and victims of domestic violence shared shelter spaces run by non-governmental organizations. The Government would commission the construction of three shelters for the victims, which would accommodate both victims of trafficking in persons and domestic violence.

Even though prostitution was illegal, a women victim of sexual exploitation or forced prostitution would have her rights protected, and legal safeguards existed to establish whether she was forced into prostitution or not.

Questions from Experts


A Committee Expert commended the increase in the participation of women in public and political life in Trinidad and Tobago: women represented 30 per cent of the Members of the Parliament, were speakers of the House, and nine out of more than 20 Ministers were women. Still, women faced significant structural barriers to their greater political participation, including difficult access to campaign financing, which would enable them to effectively compete against male counterparts. The National Gender and Development Policy would contain measures to address inequality between women and men in political participation and decision-making, but what measures would be taken to address that inequality in the absence of the gender policy?

Civil society organizations, particularly women organizations, played an important role on promoting participation of women in decision-making. What was the reaction of the Government to their proposal for the 50-50 representation of women? Would Trinidad and Tobago adopt temporary special measures to promote greater participation of women in political parties’ candidate lists, the nomination of women to senatorial position, and to foreign service? Birth registration rates still remained low, which put children at risk from trafficking and hampered their access to basic services; what progress was being made in ensuring that all children particularly girls were registered at birth?

Replies by the Delegation


The delegations stated that women received equal opportunities for financing for campaigns, and were given equal change to be politically successful. The legal framework contained equal open opportunities for political participation for both women and men. The Maternity Protection Act secured rights for pregnant employees, but maternity protection did not extend to parliamentarians; that issue was identified and included in the labour reform process. Detailed information concerning political participation of women would be provided in writing.

Questions from Experts


The Education Act of 1966 provided for free and compulsory education of children aged five to 12; free education above the age of 16 continued, but because it was not compulsory and because of the shortfall in the number of places available in secondary schools, many girls remained excluded. It was estimated that girl secondary enrolment rate was 70 per cent, and the delegation was asked who were the 30 per cent of girls who were excluded, and what exactly the reasons of their exclusion were.

Trinidad and Tobago had a very high rate of teenage pregnancy, with 2,500 girls falling pregnant every year, and most dropped out of school. What measures were being taken to address such a high rate of adolescent pregnancy, to enable girls to continue education and treat them as not as offenders, but as victims of sexual abuse?

Women in Trinidad and Tobago still experienced challenges in accessing work and employment on equal terms with men. Their labour participation was very low and they mainly held temporary work. What concrete measures were being taken to eliminate discrimination against women in the workplace, particularly measures targeting female-headed households, and to eliminate imbalances between women and men caused by past discrimination?

Replies by the Delegation


All children aged five to 16, boys and girls, were mandated to attend school. To facilitate that, a number of measures were in place, such as transportation for children from families in need, school feeding programmes and assistance with textbooks. The Education Act provided for compulsory education up to the age of 12, while the age of compulsory education had been extended to the age of 16 by the Children Act. A delegate explained that 93 to 95 per cent of children were enrolled in secondary schools, and also said that Trinidad and Tobago was experiencing some problems with national statistics, with the most complete year for national statistics available for the year 2008/2009.

It was not possible to say now what were the reasons behind high rates of teenage pregnancies. Teenage mothers were allowed to go back to school after giving birth.

The only faculty where men outnumbered women was engineering, which was an evidence of female outperforming males stated the delegation.

The delegation said that health and family life education was infused in social studies; a proposal was being developed to have health and family life also included in primary school curriculum.

The Ministry of Labour was currently implementing the labour legislative reform project under which it was identifying all laws that needed revision or amending to address to the needs of the workplace; the process was guided by Trinidad and Tobago’s international obligations, and in particular obligations under the core the International Labour Organization Conventions on equal remuneration, discrimination, maternity protection and work and family life. A study in domestic workers had been approved to assist with policy planning and taking the measures to effectively protect their rights. A national study into sexual harassment in the workplace was ongoing. Although domestic workers were not included in the Industrial Relations Act, they had a mechanism of redress and could file complaints under the Minimum Wages Act.

In their follow-up questions, Committee Experts asked how different legal provisions related to compulsory education were reconciled, namely the Education Act and the Children Act, requested more detailed and precise information related to primary to secondary education progression rate, the impact of teenage pregnancies – which was a public health crisis in the country – on school attendance rates.

The delegation explained that the Children Act 2012 had amended the Education Act in relation to the duration of the age of compulsory education, which was five to 16 years. Trinidad and Tobago was lacking reliable population data, which also affected education statistics.

Questions from Experts


An Expert took up the situation of health in Trinidad and Tobago and asked how teenage pregnancies were being dealt with from a legal and social point of view, as some pregnancies arose from non-consensual sex of older men with young girls. The delegation was asked about the use of condoms by the population, not only as a contraceptive, but also as a protection from sexually transmitted diseases, especially in the light of the fact that about 50 per cent of the new HIV infections were in women under the age of 24, which was of great concern.

In terms of maternal mortality, what were the rates, what were key causes and what role did unsafe abortion play in maternal mortality rates?

Replies by the Delegation


A Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy had been drafted and was expected to be rolled out in several months, both in schools and in health institutions. Family planning was rolled out through various programmes, but there were issues with providing contraceptives to the youth. There was a decrease in the transmission of HIV from mother to child thanks to measures taken in birth clinics, as well as decrease in HIV rates among women and in the number of new infections. Maternal mortality rates had decreased as well, and stood at 43 per 100,000 live births.

There were two approaches to teenage pregnancies, with the criminal one residing with the Sexual Offences Act, which provided for mandatory reporting of sexual abuse. The Children Act 2012 had expanded the mandatory reporting for female genital mutilation, sexual penetration and sexual touching, and decriminalized sexual activity between consenting teenagers of certain age, under the conditions that they were not of the same sex and were not in familial relations and in relations of trust. There were three governmental agencies which dealt with teenage pregnancy: the Children’s Authority, the National Family Services and the Student Support Services.

It was recognized that HIV/AIDS was not only a health but a workplace issue as it affected the people in their most productive age. The National Workplace AIDS Policy 2008 had been drafted keeping in mind the International Labour Organization Convention on discrimination, and that policy was currently being revised to include gender aspects of the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Office of the Prime Minister was currently establishing a coordinating body to deal with social issues related to HIV/AIDS.

In terms of criminalization of sexual activity against children, the delegation explained that mandatory reporting provisions were in place, making it a criminal offence to fail to report sexual abuse of children by all those who had a duty to report. The mandatory reporting provisions had been introduced in 2000 with the view of increasing detection of child abuse and child neglect. A new reporting procedure had been put in place in May 2015, whereby reporting was being done to a non-police authority, namely the Children Authority.

Questions from Experts


The poverty rate stood at 16 per cent, and, although it was among the lowest in the Caribbean, pockets of poverty remained among certain groups of the population, in particular women-headed households. What measures and programmes were in place to address gender dimension of poverty, how many women benefitted from those measures, and how women could access credits and loans, particularly for acquisition of land and property?

With regards to rural women, the delegation was asked about female unemployment rates, measures in place to ensure that rural women could move and travel in safety and security, social protection of young mothers and teenagers in the rural areas, and measures in place to assist rural women in addressing climate change.

Replies by the Delegation


In response to the issues raised by the Experts, the head of the delegation said that data on poverty and poverty reduction programmes would be provided in writing. If a woman felt that she was discriminated against in accessing a bank loan, she could file a complaint through a court or the Equal Opportunity Commission. Small loan facility and microcredits were available for women as well. Redress mechanisms for discrimination, namely the court or the Equal Opportunity Commission, were opened to all members of society.

There was a number of non-governmental organizations which supported women in the rural areas and communities, and a number of them received the support by the Government. The public transportation system was being expanded to reach into rural areas. There were no specific measures for young and teenage mothers in rural areas, which was one area of concern which the Government would address in its future policies. The Government would also adopt a gendered approach to climate change and natural resources in its future policies.

Questions from Experts


It had been reported that twice as many men as women claimed to have been victims of discrimination, and had filed their complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission, which indicated that women might have less confidence in institutions.

An Expert inquired about the reality of the married life of the girls who had been married at a very early age and general legal regulations of marriage and its resolution, particularly in relation to matrimonial property, parental rights, custody of children, etc. Did the different religious marriage statutes only regulate the age of marriage or they also regulated the married life as well? What mechanisms were in place for women to safeguard their economic rights? Mediation was a preferable mechanism for resolving divorce proceedings: were there any safeguards against encouraging mediation also in cases of domestic violence? Were there specific provisions mandating judges and family courts to take into account allegations of domestic violence when deciding on child custody when the parents did not agree on the custody arrangements?

Replies by the Delegation


In response, a delegate said that data was not available to support the assertion of more men filing complaints of discrimination to the Equal Opportunity Commission then women.

The research had not been conducted into a reality and experiences of children in marriage, but there were anecdotal accounts. Very few girls under the age of 15 got married, while the number increased for girls aged 15 to 18. Under the law, marriage emancipated the child, who got the same rights and responsibilities as adult. The Marriage Act, the Hindu Marriage Act and the Orisha Marriage Act regulated the age of marriage, while the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act regulated the age of marriage and divorce, but not the distribution of property. All marriages were regulated by civil laws, and the law applied to married children as well.

The Family Court dealt with maintenance and custody. Major changes would be introduced into how domestic violence was being dealt with by the court and would take into considerations many issued that the Experts raised in the discussion.

In her follow-up, an Expert stressed that although women had the right to marital property, the fact that they had to engage court proceedings to realize their economic right to the property registered in husband’s name, was very difficult for the many groups of vulnerable women, including those who had been married young.

A delegate explained that in case of divorce where allegations of domestic violence had been made required the judge to inform him or herself on all circumstances of the case and to make a custody decision where the child would be safe.

Concluding Remarks


AYANNA WEBSTER-ROY, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs), reaffirmed the commitment to deliver additional information in writing and to take all Committee’s recommendations into consideration.

YOKO HAYASHI, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue and encouraged Trinidad and Tobago to take all necessary measures to address the various recommendations made by the Committee.
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