Human Rights Commissioner: Laws penalizing women still rife

Other News Materials 7 March 2008 16:30 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Laws that discriminate against women still exist in almost every country in the world, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said Friday.

Speaking on the eve of International Women's Day, Arbour said the failure to create true legal parity between men and women was having "a detrimental effect on women in many countries, sometimes to a devastating degree.

"Rape is recognized as a crime in most legal systems, but even when it is, inadequate legislation or local traditions often mean laws are not properly enforced," she added.

According to a report published by the high commissioner's office, OHCHR, discriminatory laws were found on almost every statute book and repeated promises by states to revise or repeal them had not been honoured.

In some countries women had no right to own land or inherit property, they could only move around if accompanied by a man, or their educational and career prospects were extremely limited.

Arbour said: "What is clear is that many states are failing to live up to their promises to review their laws and root out institutional discrimination, and millions of women continue to suffer grave injustices as a result.

"Until states take their commitments seriously, investing in women and girls would remain a matter of rhetoric," she added.