13 October 2015, Tuesday In preparation for the 62nd session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women—the monitoring body of the United Nation’s “Women’s Convention” or CEDAW—Russian Justice Initiative (RJI) and the Chechnya Advocacy Network (CAN) submitted a shadow report to the Committee concerning Russia’s compliance with the CEDAW Convention in the North Caucasus region. 

State parties’ compliance with the Convention is considered every four years during a periodic review of the measures undertaken by the state to implement the standards of the Convention into national law, and to ensure the equality of women with men in various spheres.

RJI and CAN identified four main areas of concern with Russia’s compliance with CEDAW in the North Caucasus: the enforcement of an Islamic dress code for women and girls in Chechnya; discrimination against women in marriage and family life; violence against women; and harmful traditional practices.

The report included examples of selected individual cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights as well as the CEDAW Committee, including the case of Timagova v Russia, the first complaint from Russia to be considered by the CEDAW Committee under the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which allows for individuals to directly complain to the Committee of a violation of the rights contained in CEDAW. The petitioner in Timagova is a Chechen woman who alleges that her ex-husband received a disproportionately light sentence for severe domestic violence. One other case cited from Ingushetia, Bopkhoyeva v Russia, has been communicated by the European Court of Human Rights and concerns the non-investigation of the circumstances that led a young woman to lapse into a coma two months after being forced into marriage. The third case, from Chechnya, illustrates women’s sometimes insurmountable difficulties obtaining custody over children—even when the mother is the only surviving parent—due to the enforcement of customary norms that dictate that only the father or his family has any claim to children upon divorce or the death of the father.

The full shadow report can be read here. 

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