UN tells Moldova to end to abuses against women with disabilities

This week the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women reviewed Moldova’s compliance with global women’s rights. It called on women with disabilities to be protected from abuse, highlighting sexual assault in residential institutions, involuntary treatment, and forced sterilisation. MDAC welcomes the focus on these widespread human rights violations, and the impressive way in which the Committee has addressed multiple forms of discrimination based on gender, disability and ethnicity.

MDAC’s report to the Committee drew attention to widespread violations: detention, institutionalisation and guardianship are all commonplace for women with disabilities. Of particular concern to MDAC is the denial of sexual and reproductive rights. The Ombudsperson for Psychiatric Institutions and NGOs have reported instances of sexual violence, forced abortions and sterilisation which have not been adequately investigated. With a lack of independent and effective monitoring, abuses are carried out with impunity. The Committee has now called on the government to investigate and end these abuses, and it has reiterated that the government is responsible for ensuring medical interventions are only carried out with the free and informed consent of the woman concerned.

The Committee also encouraged the Moldovan government to ensure access for girls with disabilities to inclusive education, and women with disabilities to participate in public office, to be covered in violence prevention strategies, to employment and to healthcare. To reverse the invisibility of discriminated against groups, the Committee’s finding that, “Roma women and women with disabilities, are, in practice, almost completely excluded from political and public life” was particularly important, encouraging the government to adopt measures to ensure enhanced participation of these groups. In order to ensure the autonomy of women with disabilities, the Committee encouraged the Moldovan government to reform the “discriminatory guardianship system”, telling the government to “bring it in conformity with Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” MDAC welcomes these statements, particularly as they demonstrate a holistic understanding of the multiple nature of rights violations which women in Moldova face, and that they draw inspiration from standards across the United Nations human rights system. 

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