FIDH and LMDH call upon the authorities of Mozambique to end illegal and discriminatory practices against women

04/06/2007
Report

FIDH and its member organization, the Mozambique Human Rights League (LMDH), today released a joint report of a fact-finding mission undertaken in Mozambique from 11 to 18 March 2007. Whilst welcoming efforts made by the authorities to implement international and regional instruments on women’s rights into national law, the report highlights many remaining gaps in legislation and the persistence of numerous illegal practices.

Indeed, benefiting from legal uncertainty and a social legitimacy resulting from the persistence of patriarchal attitudes, violence against women, in particular domestic violence, remains widespread. FIDH and LMDH also document and condemn the prevalence of trafficking in women, often linked to forced prostitution. The absence of effective sanctions concerning forced marriage contributes to the persistence of this practice, which results in a large number of early pregnancies, highly detrimental to the health of young girls.

FIDH and LMDH urge the Mozambican authorities to adopt, without delay, a law on domestic violence against women including a definition of rape which includes marital rape; to pass a law banning trafficking in accordance with the Convention Against the Trafficking of Human Beings, ratified by Mozambique, and to provide for specific sanctions against forced marriages.

Whilst the gaps in legislation prevent women from asserting their rights before justice mechanisms, the adoption of laws is insufficient to bring about an end to discrimination in practice. Indeed, although child marriage is prohibited by the Article 30 of the new Family Code, adopted in 2004, the mission found that it is not rare for girls to be married at the age of twelve. Polygamy remains common throughout the country, especially in rural areas, contravening the Article 16 (2) of the Family Code. Moreover, despite the adoption of legislation, widows in Mozambique remain in a precarious situation, especially in the areas of property ownership and inheritance. Although the Property Code establishes gender equality in land ownership, widows are usually excluded when their husband’s assets are shared out.

FIDH and LMDH call upon the Mozambican authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Protocol to the African Charter on women’s rights, both ratified by Mozambique, are respected. To this end, the authorities must take effective steps to ensure that women who are victims of discrimination have access to justice and initiate awareness raising campaigns on women’s rights. Moreover, FIDH and LMDH urge the Mozambican government to ratify the optional Protocol to CEDAW, which allows individuals or groups of individuals to directly address the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Committee).

The FIDH/LMDH report on women’s rights in Mozambique has been transmitted to the experts of the CEDAW Committee who, on the 23 May 2007, examined the report submitted by Mozambique on the occasion of its 38th session.

FIDH and LMDH request the CEDAW Committee to take into account their concerns and recommendations in their concluding observations, in order to put an end to illegal and discriminatory practices against women in Mozambique.

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