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Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women reviews the situation of women in Luxembourg

GENEVA (1 March 2018) - The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Luxembourg on measures taken to effectively implement the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Presenting the reports, Lydia Mutsch, Minister for Equal Opportunities of Luxembourg, said that gender equality was deeply imbedded in the country’s Constitution and work was ongoing to make it a reality.  The unemployment rates and gender wage gap had been lowered and Luxembourg now ranked sixth in the European Union for women’s employment and first in narrowing the wage gap.  The Ministry was working with many partners on addressing domestic violence, including through dissemination of information on the legal framework, which included provisions to enforce expulsion of the perpetrator of violence from the home.  Luxembourg continued improving the legal framework, including through the drafting of a law on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention against violence against women and domestic violence, which Luxembourg had signed in 2011.  The 2016 national strategy on prostitution contained exit strategies for women wishing to leave the profession, while in the context of strengthening of the legal framework to fight exploitation and human trafficking, the criminalization of the client had been introduced into the legal code in 2018.  

Committee Experts opened the dialogue by raising concern that the gender-neutral nature of the national legislation meant in fact gender blindness and resulted in a reproduction of gender inequalities, and was inefficient in stopping male primacy and its consequences for women and girls.  The Ministry for Equal Opportunities seemed to be a weak institution with little financial resources; it did not focus of women’s rights but on diversity, and on opportunities and not rights.  Recalling that Luxembourg was the most important private banking and wealth management centre in the Eurozone, mainly due to its tax avoidance services which were offered to some of the world’s largest multinational corporations, the Experts asked whether guidelines had been established to assess the gender impact of special tax laws and rates applicable to Luxembourg-registered multinational companies.  Women were still largely underrepresented in both public and private sectors compared to men with the same qualifications, even though they were highly educated, Experts noted and stressed that local efforts to include women in policy-making were critical to diversity in politics.  They were concerned that with only 27 per cent of children in childcare for over 30 hours per week, women were condemned to part-time work and caring for children.  Part-time work remained exclusively female issue, which translated in lesser earnings and lower pensions.

Isabelle Schroeder, Legal Expert, Ministry of Equal Opportunity, said in concluding remarks that the session addressed a large number of issues and highlighted areas of further work in order to make progress on women’s rights.

Dalia Leinarte, Committee Chairperson, commended Luxembourg for its efforts and encouraged it to address various Committee’s recommendations.

The delegation of Luxembourg was composed of the representatives of the Ministry for Equal Opportunities, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and the Permanent Mission of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/

The next public meeting of the Committee will be 10 a.m. when it will consider the initial to third periodic reports of The Marshall Islands (CEDAW/C/MHL/1-3).

Report

The Committee has before it the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Luxembourg (CEDAW/C/LUX/6-7).

Presentation of the Reports

LYDIA MUTSCH, Minister for Equal Opportunities of Luxembourg, noting that half the delegation had not been able to attend because of inclement weather, said that gender equality was deeply imbedded in the country’s constitution and work was ongoing to make it a reality.  While much progress had been made in recent decades, many deficiencies remained.  For that reason, the national Ministry for Equal Opportunities had been created to overcome those gaps, while all policies were considered in light of equality and not competition between the sexes.  However, it was true that women remained the main victims of domestic violence, had disadvantages in work partly due to family responsibilities and were underrepresented in decision-making positions.  The Government was determined to make progress in eliminating those gaps in a cross-cutting way, as well as addressing discrimination against persons of all gender identification.  In that context, the country had responded directly to the recommendations provided by the Committee following the last report.

The National Gender Policy, she said, was based on the requirements set out by the Convention.  The Ministry for Equal Opportunities had focused on integrating women fully into the labour market, equality of pay, and mitigation of problems caused by family life.  There had been measurable progress in all those areas.  Companies were financially sanctioned for the violation of those statutes and were required to present equality strategies.  As a result of such policies, the women’s unemployment rates and gender wage gaps had been lowered and the country now ranked sixth in the European Union for women’s employment and first in narrowing the wage gap.  To increase women’s presence in decision-making positions, new appointment procedures had been set up and had pushed up the proportion of women in those positions.  Political parties were given incentives to reach 40 per cent women’s representation in national elections and 50 per cent in European elections.  The per cent of women elected was just above 25 per cent, so more work still needed to be done.  

The Ministry for Equal Opportunities was working with many partners on addressing domestic violence, including through dissemination of information on the legal framework, which included provisions to enforce expulsion of the perpetrator of violence from the home.  The White Ribbon Campaign and Orange March against Violence had been strongly staged in the country, with the participation of national figures.  Children recognized as victims were assisted and guided by special services, and services available to adult victims were extensive.  There had been a reduction in expulsions and police interventions in recent years, showing that the laws and awareness raising efforts were bearing fruit, but Luxembourg continued improving the legal framework, including through the drafting of a law on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention against violence against women and domestic violence, which Luxembourg had signed in 2011.

An awareness campaign on trafficking in persons had been launched in 2016 and the Ministry for Equal Opportunities was in charge of caring for and assisting victims.  The national strategy on prostitution adopted in 2016 foresaw exit strategies for women wishing to leave their profession, improving sex and emotional education, while in the context of strengthening of the legal framework to fight exploitation and human trafficking, the criminalization of the client had been introduced into the legal code in 2018.  

The Minister stressed that men should be not only agents of change in gender equality policies, but their beneficiaries as well because men also suffered injustices and difficult social situations.  Men too were interested in reconciling professional and family life and devoting more time to their children, therefore Luxembourg was designing reforms and services for individuals and couples of both genders.  An important part of the work of the Ministry was information sharing and awareness-raising, because the remaining imbalances in the society were due to traditional mind sets.  Combating gender stereotypes started at a very young age, and all those entering civil and military service were obliged to attend courses on gender equality, which was a vital pillar of modern society, concluded Ms. Mutsch.

Questions by Committee Experts

A Committee Expert opened the dialogue with the delegation from Luxembourg by stating that democracy meant creating equal rights and opportunities for all, and that patriarchal dominance in the society was not normal.  Gender neutrality of the rule of law, as well as the concept of diversity, were only a myth as they did not prevent exclusion of women and were inefficient in stopping male primacy and its consequences for women and girls.

With regards to the constitutional and legal framework, there was a lack of legal provisions for gender mainstreaming and a lack of gender-aggregated data.  How did the State plan to intensify the separation of powers?  Also, could the delegation expound on the Luxembourg Human Rights Institution, which had been recently established?

The Expert stressed the obligation of all States parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to allocate sufficient public funding to realize women’s human rights and the right to substantive gender equality.  The shortfalls in public budgets due to the lost revenue, and the related spending cuts, tended to affect low-income populations, which were mainly made up of women.  

Recalling that Luxembourg was the most important private banking and wealth management centre in the Eurozone, mainly due to its tax avoidance services which were offered to some of the world’s largest multinational corporations, the Expert asked whether guidelines had been established to assess the gender impact of special tax laws and rates applicable to Luxembourg-registered multinational companies.

Acknowledging the role Luxembourg played in terms of sustainable development policies and the equality between men and women in that regard, Experts asked how its 2004 sustainable development policy had a bearing on their own vision of gender equality.

Did Luxembourg have the power to investigate crimes committed abroad by the people who were in Luxembourg?

What was the status of the national action plan on business and human rights, how it integrated a gender perspective and what was the level of participation of civil society organizations?

Responses by the Delegation

Responding to questions and issues raised by the Committee Rapporteur, a delegate reminded the Committee that equal rights between men and women were expressly written in the Constitution, and reiterated the active role of the State in eliminating all forms of discrimination between men and women.  There was no discrimination present in any law, but inequalities existed in practice.  It was essential to first try to change mentalities, and then follow up with legal action.  Sensitization, information, fighting against stereotypes in schools, showing children they could do anything they wanted in life was important but at the same time, laws and sanctions had to be put in place for people who didn’t understand why equality was important.

The delegate acknowledge the gender pay gap in Luxembourg, which however was lower than in many other countries.  To address this, the Government had enacted equal pay legislation, which helped in further closing this gap.

The participation of women in Luxembourg politics was now at 24 per cent, up only four per cent from 20 years ago.  A quota law had been introduced as a preliminary step toward equality in this area, even though quotas were not ideal.  Many Scandinavian countries had been successful with quota laws and had female representation of more than 40 per cent, it was noted.

Gender equality data was lacking because the data collection didn’t start early enough.  The National Gender Policy insisted on the responsibility of each ministry to make an effort with regard to gender equality and data collection was part of that responsibility.  The Ministry for Equal Opportunities had played an important role in a working group on gender equality indicators, to which it was transmitting its decade-long experience of developing and implementing gender strategy.  Much work had been done to integrate gender into policies and mainstream it into general society.  Because of a very strict data protection law, prostitution-related data collection had to be compatible with Luxembourg laws and regulations because there was a very strict data protection law.

Concerning tax policy transparency, the delegation said that Luxembourg cooperated with other European countries and stressed that tax laws did not concern women specifically.

As for the national action plan on business and human rights, Government, civil society and business groups would meet the following week, and the negative impact of business on women and girls would be a part of the discussions, in which banks, insurance companies and financial institutions would also be included.  Luxembourg was intending to complete the work on the establishment of the national human rights institution which should be accessible to the citizens in 2019.

Consultations with civil society organizations took place twice a year, which was instrumental in developing a number of strategies to promote gender equality and rights of women and girls, and to combat gender-based discrimination including female genital mutilation.  For example, projects in Mali and Burkina Faso, had helped stop female genital mutilation practices in certain villages.  

The Ministry for Equal Opportunities was determined to push through the women empowerment agenda in healthcare in the State’s humanitarian and development aid programmes.  The World Health Organization’s new general work programme 2019-2020 would be unveiled in May 2018, and the delegation said that Luxembourg had been working hard to see greater inclusion of women, children and adolescents.

Questions by Committee Experts

Next, Committee Experts focused on the national machinery and noted the existence of many organizations and institutions, often with specialized tasks.  The Ministry for Equal Opportunities seemed to be a weak institution with little financial resources; it did not focus of women’s rights but on diversity, and on opportunities and not rights.  

Luxembourg was currently reconsidering the function of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Gender Equality, in charge of the coordination between ministries, while the involvement of non-governmental organizations – particularly women, disabled women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons - didn’t seem to be of great national concern.  All this implied that a compact gender policy in line with the understanding of the Convention, was lacking.   The National Action Plan for Gender Equality 2015-2018 was missing defined action, indicators for evaluation, and the budget, while Inter-Ministerial Committee in charge of its implementation was weak.

Concerning access to justice, an Expert remarked that the Convention and its Optional Protocol were not well known, nor was it included in the legislation and case law.  How was the public informed of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention)?

Experts raised concern about the gender-neutral nature of the Luxembourg legislation, noting that gender neutrality meant gender blindness and resulted in a reproduction of gender inequalities.  How women accessed justice and were there gender sensitivity measures in place for women who sought asylum?  Why was the ministry called the Ministry of Equal Opportunities and not Equality between Men and Women?

Responses by the Delegation

Responding, the delegate recognized budgetary constraints, noting that the Ministry of Equal Opportunities was the smallest in the country, with the smallest budget, but since Luxembourg was one of the only countries with a ministry committed across the board to improving equal opportunities between men and women, that was already an improvement.  The title of the Ministry signalled the goal of eliminating discrimination against women but also the need to address the role and concerns of men.

Diversity policies, including those related to disabilities, age and race, were the responsibility of the Ministry of Family and Integration, a delegate said.  In regard to asylum seekers, there were laws in place to assist vulnerable individuals including those in need of shelter and psychological counselling and those subject at risk of violence.  People with disabilities also had access to centres created specifically to address their needs.

The Ministry of Family had a goal to promote a better balance between public and private life, including through parental leave policies that were now being reassessed in the interest of allowing flexibility for paternity leave for fathers.   The number of fathers who took advantage of parental leave had tripled in the past two years.

In 2013 legislation was put in place to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in Luxembourg.

Regarding dissemination of information on the Convention and Optional Protocol, a delegate described training sessions for public officials, which were mandatory in many cases.  Police officers were trained on overseeing gender equality in public and private situations and on providing support for victims of gender discrimination based on gender, including sexual harassment.  Non-governmental organizations, nine of which worked specifically in the area of gender equality, also received training.

Training on human trafficking also took place and the identification of victims was included in that training.  Trafficked women received support.

Questions by Committee Experts

Continuing the dialogue, a Committee Expert addressed traditional images of women in Luxembourg society, praising the State’s efforts to combat stereotypes.  A study of the image of women in the media from 2013 had been reported, yet there were no results provided, experts noted.

Concerning asylum seekers, the experts asked how Luxembourg combated prejudice against them and how were language proficiency obstacles being addressed in terms of education.  Questions concerning female genital mutilation, the impact on women migrants of hate speech and the lack of staffing in shelters for victims of domestic violence among the migrant population were also posed.

An Expert noted that the Istanbul Convention on combatting violence against women and domestic violence had been promoted and signed early on by Luxembourg and asked why implementation had lagged, and if a timeline could be provided.  Another Expert was concerned that women in de facto relationships in which domestic violence took place were not covered by legislation that covered formal families.  Was there data on other forms of violence against women beside domestic?   There did not appear to be sufficient resources for shelters for female victims of domestic violence, an Expert worried.

An Expert congratulated the State on their efforts to promote awareness of trafficking in persons, noting that, however, such trafficking continued.  She asked what measures had been taken to collect information about the problem and what was the number of prosecution of perpetrators of trafficking in persons.  Was the National Action Plan sufficient to end trafficking in persons and were non-governmental organizations involved in the decision making process concerning it?  It seemed that police were the only authorities available to identify victims of trafficking – were the non-governmental organizations involved in victim identification?  Questions on the status of victim and protections were in place for them were also posed.  As the Expert was also concerned that the majority of trafficking sentences had been suspended, creating potential safety problems, she asked if there were means to change that situation.  

An Expert asked if inspection and monitoring were conducted in places where prostitution was rampant, and how the plan to reduce prostitution through education, required by the National Action Plan, would be carried out.  

Responses by the Delegation

On the implementation of the Istanbul Convention on combatting violence against women and domestic violence, a delegate stated that it fell under the Ministry of Justice.  It was true that a bill had been proposed only in 2017.  The bill was very significant, however, and ensured that the Protocol was legally binding in the country.  

It included a clause to combat gender inequalities and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, defended victims of female genital mutilation and contained a provision that repealed gender neutrality in the law.  There were complications, however, when forced marriage and female genital mutilation were committed beyond Luxembourg’s borders.  For rape, female genital mutilation and forced abortion, the timeline for the statute of limitations was ten years.  

When police intervened in domestic violence cases, they were trained to prioritize protection for women and children, who were provided with specialized services when expulsions were involved.

On human trafficking, the delegation said that a law for the safety and security of victims was in place and that a Committee had been set up to conduct campaigns aimed at the wider public to break down taboos about trafficking, and to offer training to detect and identify victims.  Trafficking victims, they said, were also provided special assistance.  Trafficked minors were placed in foster homes and unaccompanied minors were placed with a guardian and given support until the age of 18.  During a three-month period, they were allowed to remain in Luxembourg to recover.  They could then obtain a six-month stay permit, beyond that they could remain for personal reasons and in order to pursue justice.   Trafficking statistics were gathered annually by the police but they were not currently available to the delegation but could be provided at a later point.

Major importance was attached to a national educational programme to promote emotional and sexual health that was now being drafted and would be implemented through books in schools.  It would include information on the most vulnerable people in society.  This education would be available to all children and integrated a gender dimension.

Luxembourg ministries as well as non-governmental organizations were involved with combatting harmful cultural practices and non-governmental organizations gave victims of violence care and social support along with tools for empowerment.

Training police and judges on the rights of women were also part of awareness campaigns, as was information about a cyber-bullying stopline, which was established so citizens could flag discriminatory language posted online.  Awareness was also raised about a hotline had been established for victims of domestic abuse.   As part of a life and society program aimed at primary school students, diversity and tolerance were addressed as well as conflict management.   Messages extended to images seen in the media.

The National Action Plan’s work on prostitution needed to have significant financial contributions from other ministries, which needed to take their responsibilities seriously.  The same would go for street work to increase personnel to monitor where prostitution occurred.  Regulation were already issued by the municipal authorities concerning prostitution.

Regarding domestic violence, the definition applied to all individuals living together in a home. As long as those people were under the same roof, they were protected.  However, flat mates were a different situation.  Non-governmental organizations were trained in domestic violence cases as well as violence in general.  These non-governmental organizations were funded by the State, about 13 million euros were dedicated to them.  Their services, training, staff and their premises are all funded by the State.  Every year they had a provisional budget where they outlined their needs and it was studied every year and each year they were granted funding.

Questions by Committee Experts

Women in Luxembourg were still largely underrepresented in both public and private sectors as compared to men with the same qualifications, even though they were highly educated.  Local efforts to include women in policy-making were critical to diversity in politics, Experts stressed.  Why were women were so underrepresented even though they were certainly academically capable to take high-level posts?  Even though political parties might felt more comfortable having women on the list of candidates, that did not necessarily mean there was gender equality in practice. Were quotas in place for women to be elected in the Chamber of Deputies?

A database had been created with profiles of women who were ready to assume directing roles in businesses.  Where was this database located and how many women were included in it?

Gender stereotypes remained, Experts remarked and asked about measures taken in the education sector to eradicate them.  Experts were concerned that despite the highly developed educational system in which instruction was delivered in three languages, students born to foreign parents didn’t seem to do too well, while children from migrant families, particularly girls, suffered intimidation and even physical and psychological violence.  What support was available to migrant girls, how were the studies made more attractive to girls from foreign backgrounds given the linguistic barriers in place?  What role models were available to these girls?  

Another concern was related to low number of women in high-level positions in the educational institutions, particularly higher education.

Responses by the Delegation

Luxembourg was one of the few countries that implemented quotas for elections and it was up to the various parties to implement the law which called for 40 per cent of the candidates to be members of one sex; sanctions were imposed on parties which failed to comply.  The electorate was not obliged to vote for the 40 per cent.  Another factor that could explain low representation of women in decision-making positions was that women themselves often did not believe they had the necessary skills or experience.

The database on women qualified to serve on companies’ boards had indeed been created and it included profiles of 600 women from all walks of life, particularly in areas where women were not regularly seen as experts, such as the financial field.

Basic education was free of charge and there were no financial barriers in place for children to access school.  A new law was being implemented to provide assistance to children of other cultures.  The hope was that inter-cultural measures would help assist parents and children when they translated classroom materials.  Initiatives had been launched to combat mobbing and discrimination against migrant groups as well.  In classrooms, tolerance was part of the curriculum.  Victims of mobbing had access to psychological services regardless of their citizenship.  Children were encouraged to follow their preferences in the professional world without viewing careers as “male” or “female.”  The underlying idea was to have a neutral approach.

Questions by Committee Experts

Luxembourg was ahead of many countries in terms of gender pay gap, which in 2017 it was only 5.4 per cent, Experts remarked and asked how it would be completely closed.  Very few women held managerial positions and not one board was led by a woman.  Quotas might be an answer to this problem, as already practiced by other European countries.  What was the current status of the 2000 law to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and had it been effective?  How many men were actually using the right to paternity leave?

Only 27 per cent of children were in childcare for over 30 hours per week, thus part-time work remained almost an exclusively female issue; mothers particularly worked part-time and cared for the children at the same time, while men tended to increase their full-time work when they had children.  This translated into higher pensions for men because they worked more.  How could men take more responsibility at home to close this gap?

Luxembourg had one of the best health systems in Europe particularly with respect to women in children, however smoking was still an issue.  There was a national action plan to combat smoking but was there enough financing and how well was it working?  The National Action Plan concerning reproductive health was not far-reaching – what were the plans to expand it among the adolescent community?  

With regards to intersex persons, Experts stressed that their sex-realignment surgery was akin to female genital mutilation and was a harmful process, and urged Luxembourg to extend the limitation of claims under the civil law to 30 years.  The delegation was asked to explain the treatment, including medical and surgical, of intersex children and what support was provided.

The Experts were concerned that contraception was forced upon women with intellectual disabilities and asked about their protection from forced sterilization.  Did migrant women have access to healthcare?  Noting that women and girls were two-and-a-half times more affected by mental health issues, Experts remarked that publicity for anti-depressants seemed particularly sexist and asked about mental health services and the support available to women.

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation explained that companies that continued to maintain wage gaps were sanctioned under a law passed in December 2016.  Luxembourg was raising awareness about this law so that company directors would assess the situation of their company and put in place appropriate measures to change it.

The delegation recognized that part-time work meant part-time pension and a danger of falling into poverty, and said that family support structures had been put in place to encourage all people, regardless of sex, to take on full-time work. Full-time work was particularly important for divorced women, considering that 55 per cent of marriages in Luxembourg ended in divorce.  As for sexual harassment in the workplace, in line with the European framework and national regulations, labour audits took into account the various forms of sexual harassment and specialized units were put in place to receive complaints of unlawful wages or harassment.

There were two amendments to anti-smoking law which aimed to extended the ban to all public places, including sports facilities where children under the age of 16 participated in sports.  A ban on smoking in vehicles where a child under the age of 12 was present, had been introduced.  Unfortunately, the number of smokers aged 13 and 14 was on the rise.  Pregnant women were advised how to adopt a healthy lifestyle and measures to limit smoking were part of that education.

Psycho-social services were made available through health services, and were accessible to migrant women too. A government committee was currently studying legislation with regard to intersex children, a delegate said.

Concerning the rights of intersex women, a delegate said that a law had been presented to the Parliament based on the principle of auto-determination for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community; it addressed the abolition of sterilization and subjection of harmful medical treatments.  

Luxembourg followed the recommendations of the Council of Europe and international laws on the matter of intersex persons, and had in place a law that strengthened the rights of intersex persons, as it had been drafted on the idea of self-determination.  Sex or name changes had been moved from a judicial to an administrative procedure which was accessible to nationals and non-nationals, while a recently drafted bill suggested that civil registration forms include a third gender option.  The aim of all those measures was to eliminate any discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  The timeframe for the statute of limitations for sex-realignment surgeries and genital mutilation would be expanded to ten years.

Luxembourg, like any other member of the European Union, did not intend to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, because migrant workers were already protected under several other international and national laws more effective than the Convention itself.

Questions by Committee Experts

Addressing the economic situation of women, Experts stressed that the importance of women’s participation in economic life, and inquired about maternity allowances for single women or women who owned businesses, the number of women who owned farms or farm businesses, the financial obstacles women faced, and plans to end poverty among women.

There was an important number of migrant domestic workers, Experts remarked, noting that women were usually more vulnerable when they were not in their own country.  What was the situation of migrant domestic workers in Luxembourg and what provisions were in place for them?

Responses by the Delegation

The statistics on female landowners, or credit and loan statistics for women were not available, a delegate said.   With regards to the elimination of poverty among rural women, they had access State-provided health, housing and legal aid.

Luxembourg had set up projects to build skills of female entrepreneurs; 155 women led those projects and 69 entrepreneurs came out of it.  A part of the project, women were encouraged to network and were also provided office sharing and co-working spaces.  There were also mentoring programs available for current female entrepreneurs to help the up and comers.  Women-specific loans were available to help them manage their assets and resolve inheritance issues.

Questions by Committee Experts

The delegation was asked to provide statistics on reports of the violation of women’s rights and available protection and tools.  The July 2014 law recognized equality of marriage, Experts noted and remarked that a gap remained in the prohibition of marriage before the age of 18.  What were women’s rights in divorce proceedings?

It was reported that single-sex couples did not have same filiation rights as heterosexual couples.  What was being done to curb violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons including in shelters for victims of violence?  When would the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) be ratified?

How was Luxembourg addressing anti-semitism, racism and hate-speech?

Responses by the Delegation

There were two solutions for discrimination against women, said one delegate: they were pointed to the appropriate ombudsman depending on if they were a legal adult or child to review their case.  There were also non-governmental organizations in place that provided advice and legal support, which could guide women to other competent institutions.

On an exceptional basis, a delegated said child marriages were authorized but under the guardianship of a judge.  There were several reasons for the marriages but the situations were analysed in great detail, always with the best interests of the child first and foremost.

A draft bill on divorce allowed the equality of parental authority regardless of civil status of the parents.  If violence was present in the marriage being dissolved, the victim would receive compensation, and the situation of the spouse was taken into account when sharing assets as well.  

With respect to filiation, the new Civil Status Act enabled a recognition of a non-biological parent, said the delegation and reaffirmed that the system was not discriminatory against same sex couples.  Access to shelters for victims of violence was open to all irrespective of gender identity or sex.  Discrimination cases against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons were being handled by the Ministry of the Family.  Luxembourg was awaiting the opinion from State Council before proceeding with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.

Discrimination was prohibited by the criminal code and violators could be prosecuted.  Individual or collective complaints could be submitted.  Non-governmental organizations received complaints and published annual reports which showed how important it was to take action in that regard.  

Concluding Remarks

ISABELLE SCHROEDER, Legal Expert, Ministry of Equal Opportunity, said that the session was very enriching as it addressed a large number of issues and highlighted areas of further work in order to make progress on women’s rights.

DALIA LEINARTE, Committee Chairperson, commended Luxembourg for its efforts and encouraged it to address various recommendations, which the Committee would issue with the purpose of a more comprehensive implementation of the Convention throughout the State party.

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