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23.03.2010

Complaint to Human Rights Ombudsperson over Azarov’s discriminatory comments

   

For the first time a complaint has been submitted to Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsperson over sexual discrimination by the Prime Minister.

As reported already, on 19 March, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stated, after presenting the new Governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Oleksandr Vilkul, the following:

“Some say that our government is large, others that it doesn’t have any women in it, there’s nobody to look at during a Cabinet of Ministers meeting. The most boring people. With all due respect to women, carrying out reforms is not a woman’s matter”. 

He claimed that in the new government people had been chosen who can work 16 hours a day “without weekends and days off”, can take responsibility and are not afraid to say no to the leadership.

The remarks received wide coverage both on websites and television channels.

In response, a number of civic organizations have lodged a complaint (No. 148070 10/26) with Nina Karpachova, the Human Rights Ombudsperson alleging sexual discrimination by the Prime Minister. They are the Information and Consultation Women’s Centre, the International Women’s Human Rights Centre La Strada – Ukraine; the civic organization “50/50”; the School of Equal Opportunities”; the Youth Section of the Ukrainian Network against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children; the “Development of Democracy” Centre.

The complaint lists the various provisions of the Constitution, other legislation and international agreements which the Prime Minister’s remarks are so at variance with.

It points out that the Ombudsperson is obliged to consider such complaints and respond to them.

The complaint reads that “the remarks quoted by M. Azarov are a public statement by a high-ranking public official which can be considered part of his governmental activities, this resulting in a violation of the rights and legitimate interests of an entire group of citizens, Ukrainian women. An obstruction has been created preventing women from exercising their constitutional right to take part in State governance, this also being a demonstration of direct discrimination.

The authors give a detailed analysis of the discriminatory nature of such remarks and conclude by expressing the hope that the Ombudsperson will react in accordance with the law and not her political affiliations (Nina Karpachova actually held office as a National Deputy from the Party of the Regions, Azarov’s party, in 2006 – translator).

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