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27.02.2007

Plans afoot to restrict the right of women serving in the Armed Forces to marry and have children

   

Wide coverage was given in the Ukrainian media a few days ago to the announcement by the Minister of Defence Anatoly Hryshchenko that women serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be asked to sign a contract prohibiting them from getting married and having children.
The contract will be for five years. However the question arises as to the legality of such a contract at all since Article 21 of the Constitution states that “All people are free and equal in their dignity and rights.
Human rights and freedoms are inalienable and inviolable”. Take also Article 24 which stipulates that “Citizens have equal constitutional rights and freedoms and are equal before the law”, There shall be no privileges or restrictions on the grounds of gender.
In addition, pursuant to Article 4 § 1 of the Family Code a person who has reached the age at which s/he can marry, has the right to have a family. According to Article 22 of this Code, the relevant age for a woman is seventeen, and for a man – eighteen. Article 49 § 1 of the Code stipulates the right to motherhood. Article 49 § 3 states that depriving a woman of the possibility of having children (her reproductive function) due to her fulfilment of constitutional, official, labour duties or as a result of unlawful treatment, shall warrant grounds to compensate her for moral damages sustained.
Thus, if women serving in the Forces are indeed made to sign such contracts forbidding them to marry and have children, then such contracts will be illegal in accordance with the rights listed above.
At the same time, many women in this position will have the opportunity should they sign such contracts of seeking damages through the courts.
One wonders whether the officials in the higher echelons of power, in taking such decisions, consider the consequences of such conditions and their legality. The question must arise of the competence of such officials and their familiarity with Ukrainian legislation. On the other hand, public statements are one thing and what happens in practice, another.
Mykola Hlotov, Lawyer for the Rivne Regional Branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine

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