Human Rights Monitoring Institute has submitted an alternative report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in order to assist the Committee in assessing Lithuania’s progress when implementing women’s rights, while reviewing Lithuania’s fifth periodic report.
The Committee (which, for the first time, includes a representative from Lithuania, professor Dalia Leinartė) will be examining the periodic report of Lithuania on June 30 – July 18 in Geneva. During this session, the Committee will assess how Lithuania had been implementing the provisions of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
HRMI drew the Committee’s attention to the fact that, even with the adoption of the Law on Protection Against Domestic Violence, women in Lithuania cannot feel safe. The safety measures prescribed by the Law are often not applied, the penal process does not take into account the needs of the victims of domestic violence and police officers do not ensure that victims are sent to specialized help centers and receive due psychological and other assistance.
The state does not pay sufficient attention to another major problem: the trafficking of women and girls. Even though the law was changed during the reported period in order to better tackle this crime, in practice many victims remain unprotected while traffickers continue to evade capture. The scale of trafficking continues to grow, while the average age of its victims continues to decrease. The fact that society and law enforcement bodies are prone to stigmatizing and blaming the victims does not help in fighting this heinous crime.
Legislative initiatives aimed at restricting women’s rights are of the greatest concern. A draft law almost completely prohibiting abortion had been registered in 2013, and it is currently being deliberated in the committees of Parliament. This law would be a major step backward for the protection of women’s rights and would pose a real threat to their health and lives. HRMI expressed great concern over such initiatives and suggested that the Committee makes recommendations to the state to ensure that no similar laws are passed.