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Women facing legalized discrimination worldwide: report

[JURIST] Women face legalized discrimination in nearly every country in the world despite pledges by 185 members to eliminate laws favoring men by 2005, according to a UN-commissioned report [PDF text] released Sunday. Prepared by University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) [university website] law professor Fareda Banda [academic profile] for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile], the report suggests finding new ways to fight discrimination since existing human rights laws are not being honored. It also calls for the appointment of a special rapporteur on laws that discriminate against women and notes:

If the UN is to maintain its credibility and not be dismissed as a mere talking shop, then it will have to ensure that the failure to meet what should be a simple pledge, the removal of laws that discriminate against women made in conference documents in 1995 (Beijing), reviewed in 2000 (Beijing+5) and which remained unfulfilled a decade later in 2005 (Beijing+10), is dealt with as a matter of urgency.
The report further found that discriminatory laws regarding divorce, pensions and maternity benefits in many countries lead to the "life-long violation" of womens' rights. BBC News has more.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women [official website], which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [text], is the main UN body tasked with fighting institutionalized bias against women. Last month, it called for Saudi Arabia [JURIST news archive] to abolish laws that give men complete guardianship over women [JURIST report], giving women few or no rights as regards marriage, divorce, child custody, and property ownership.

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