The United Nations worried about women’s situation in Niger

Press release

Following the presentation on the 29th of May 2007 of Niger’s initial report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW Convention), FIDH and its member organisation in Niger, the Association nigérienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme (ANDDH), welcome the recent adoption by the UN CEDAW Committee, of its concluding comments on Niger.

On the occasion of the Committee’s 38th session, following an FIDH international fact-finding mission held in Niger last February, FIDH and ANDDH submitted to the Committee’s independent experts a list of issues focusing on the persistence of discriminatory practices against women in this country. The concluding comments addressed to Niger largely reflect the concerns of FIDH and ANDDH.

The CEDAW Committee deplored the persistence of gender-based stereotypes legitimising traditional practices such as forced and early marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, trafficking in women and repudiation, practices largely widespread in the country due in part to the absence of laws sanctioning them. The gaps in legislation, and the poor implementation of laws also jeopardise women’s rights to inheritance as well as their marital rights and within the family.

The CEDAW Committee urged the Nigerian authorities to adopt, without delay, a Family Code, implementing the provisions of the CEDAW Convention disposals in order to fight effectively against these traditional practices.

The UN experts, also regretted the persistence of practices principally perpetrated against women, such as certain slave-like practices. Indeed, despite the adoption, in 2003, of a law criminalizing this practice, slavery and sexual exploitation of women and girls remain common.

The CEDAW Committee, also deplored the low representation of women in the government, in spite of the law adopted in 2000, to increase women’s representation in the government. It called the state to adopt measures to accelerate women’s equal participation in elected and appointed bodies.

Finally, the CEDAW Committee insisted on the need to provide women with full access to justice, to enable women to assert their rights guaranteed in the instruments for the protection of women’s rights ratified by Niger including the CEDAW Convention. The experts called on the authorities to withdraw their reservations to Articles 2 and16 (prohibition of discrimination against women and equal rights within marriage).

FIDH and ANDDH call upon Niger to implement awareness-raising programmes on women’s rights and to widely disseminate the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee.

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