Violations of the Rights of Women From Particularly Vulnerable Groups in the Russian Federation

04.03.2015
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ADC “Memorial” has prepared a list of issues and themes pertaining to discrimination against women from particularly vulnerable groups, such as Roma women, migrant women, LGBT women, and Muslim women. This list has been prepared in anticipation of the 62nd Pre-session of the United Nations Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which opens March 9th in Geneva and which will focus on the position of women in the Russian Federation.

ADC “Memorial” has noted that in the Russian Federation women’s rights are violated even by legislation and administrative regulations; thus the list includes a list of professions to which women are denied entry, the absence of a law specifically prohibiting domestic violence, and a number of restrictions pertaining to the rights of women from religious communities (e.g. in some parts of the country women are forbidden to wear a Muslim hijab whereas in others they are required to wear one).

Human rights activists emphasize the vulnerable position of women from traditional communities, who are often the target both of external discrimination by governmental authorities and of internal discrimination, where a community relies on “traditional values” to limit the rights of women, whether they live in the Northern Caucasus, in Roma encampments (tabors), or have migrated from the countries of Central Asia or Transcaucasia. Violence, coercion, and sometimes even outright punishment inflicted upon women and girls for “inappropriate behavior” remains a widespread violation of the women’s rights in patriarchal communities but does not receive an adequate response from the authorities. At times governmental authorities support patriarchal “values” by openly referring to the special role of women as mothers and not as people with rights and opportunities equivalent to those of men. ADC “Memorial” can provide examples of the most blatant use of traditional prejudices by police officers; for example, after learning that in Roma communities cutting a woman’s braids off is a mark of extreme dishonor and degradation, the police detained Roma woman and forcibly cut off their hair, abusing them and extorting money from them in the process.

The list also shines a spotlight on women who are victims of human trafficking and raises the issue of detention of foreign women in Russian deportation facilities (the SUVSIG system), which can last for many years, and on victims of sexual exploitation whom the authorities attempt to deport or segregate rather than to protect their rights in any way. One of the themes concerns women who are members of a sexual minority and who are often subject to physical attacks based on their “deviant” appearance and lifestyle according to “traditional” standards. Human rights activists have observed that in the Russian Federation the rights of women activists from the civil society movement are violated with increasing frequency and that they are harassed and forcibly separated from their young children. Furthermore, the crackdown on civil society and human rights organizations that has occurred in recent years has resulted in great damage to a number of NGOs whose work focuses on the problem of discrimination, including discrimination against women.

The list also shines a spotlight on women who are victims of human trafficking and raises the issue of detention of foreign women in Russian deportation facilities (the SUVSIG system), which can last for many years, and on victims of sexual exploitation whom the authorities attempt to deport or segregate rather than to protect their rights in any way. One of the themes concerns women who are members of a sexual minority and who are often subject to physical attacks based on their “deviant” appearance and lifestyle according to “traditional” standards. Human rights activists have observed that in the Russian Federation the rights of women activists from the civil society movement are violated with increasing frequency and that they are harassed and forcibly separated from their young children. Furthermore, the crackdown on civil society and human rights organizations that has occurred in recent years has resulted in great damage to a number of NGOs whose work focuses on the problem of discrimination, including discrimination against women.

The list also shines a spotlight on women who are victims of human trafficking and addresses the issue of detention of foreign women in Russian deportation facilities (the SUVSIG system), which can last for many years; and on victims of sexual exploitation, whom the authorities attempt to deport or segregate rather than protecting their rights in any way. One of the themes concerns women who are members of a sexual minority and who are often subject to physical attacks based on their “deviant” appearance and lifestyle according to “traditional” standards. Human rights activists have observed that in the Russian Federation the rights of female activists from the civil society movement are violated with increasing frequency and that they are harassed and forcibly separated from their young children. The crackdown on civil society and human rights organizations that has occurred in recent years has resulted in great damage to a number of NGOs whose work focuses on the problem of discrimination, including discrimination against women.

List of issues by ADC Memorial