Turkmenistan: UN Women Rights Committee strongly criticizes discrimination | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Turkmenistan: UN Women Rights Committee strongly criticizes discrimination

Turkmenistan: UN Women Rights Committee strongly criticizes discrimination

The UN CEDAW committee is “seriously concerned about attitudes and policies reinforcing discriminatory traditional norms, harmful practices and patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes […] in all spheres of life” in Turkmenistan.

– The concluding remarks of the UN Committee address serious shortcomings in implementation of both domestic and international standards for women’s rights, says Norwegian Helsinki Committee Secretary General Bjørn Engesland. - Turkmen authorities should take action on the recommendations outlined.

The Committee is concerned with fundamental misperceptions in the Turkmen government and society that are reflected in the report. For example, the definition of discrimination against women in the Turkmen constitution makes reference only to civil rights and is therefore not in line with Article 1 of the Women’s Convention. Another main concern is the lack of targeted legislation that deals with violence against women, in particular domestic and sexual violence, and the lack of effective measures to inform the population about the state’s obligations in the sphere of women’s rights.  

CEDAW is concerned with the lack of statistical data available for the public, and where such data is available, the lack of data aggregated by gender. This complicates verification of any reported progress in the country, including in reproductive health and the reported national HIV program, as well as reports of overcrowding and unsatisfactory conditions in the Dashoguz Women’s prison.  

Civil Society in Turkmenistan faces strict requirements by the government, and the delegation was pressured on this during the hearing. After first listing the Turkmenistan Women’s Union as an NGO that participated in the preparation of the report, the delegation failed to respond adequately to the committee’s question as to why the chairperson of this union then was present in Geneva as a member of the official delegation.   

Activists inside the country have despite the difficulties been able to pass on information to international colleagues, and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee was present in Geneva together with colleagues from COC Netherlands and Central Asian Gender and Sexuality Advocacy Network (CAGSAN). The activists present were pleased to be able to submit detailed information to concrete questions from the CEDAW committee members during the session. – The Turkmen government exposed its absence of political will and commitment to women's human rights by deliberately avoiding concrete responses to the evidence-based questions and interventions from the CEDAW Committee members, noted the representative of CAGSAN.

– Despite the restrictions created by the Turkmen government, the committee was able to draw upon recommendations and information also from alternative sources in their sound concluding remarks, and we are pleased that we could contribute to this, Engesland concludes.    

On 24 October 2012 the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) made public the unedited version of the concluding observations on the country report of Turkmenistan.


Read the concluding remarks here

Read the alternative report by the NHC here

Read about the 53rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women here

Central Asian Gender and Sexuality Advocacy Network (CAGSAN) here