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06.04.2010

Ukrainian women vs. Azarov

   

Prominent Ukrainian activists are using the courts to fight sexist statements from those in power, however lawyers are not optimistic about the prospects for such civil suits.

The suit lodged with the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv claiming a violation by the Prime Minister of the constitutional right to gender equality requires clarification by 10 April. However one of the claimants, Head of La Strada – Ukraine, Kateryna Levchenko explains:

“A great deal of what clarification is sought on is already in the civil suit in which I ask for Mykola Azarov’s remarks in Dnipropetrovsk where he said that “carrying out reform in Ukraine is not a woman’s matter” to be declared discriminatory, and demand moral compensation of 1 UAH”.

Ms Levchenko is convinced that they will do anything to stall the suit, however she has no intention of backing down and hopes in this way to draw attention to the issue of gender discrimination in the country. She says that once all domestic avenues are exhausted, there are possibilities for defending ones rights at an international level. There is, for example, procedure for submitting individual complaints to the UN Committee on the Convention for Fighting all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Lawyers are sceptical

Kyiv lawyer Viacheslav Yakubenko does not see much prospect for the civil suit. “In some cases public campaigns are much more effective than turning to the court”.

As reported, Ms Levchenko’s suit is one of two: Olena Suslova, Head of the Information and Consultative Women’s Centre has also filed a suit alleging violation of constitutional right to gender equality, however in her case the respondent is not the Prime Minister alone, but the Cabinet of Ministers as a whole.

The Cabinet of Ministers press service earlier claimed that the Prime Minister’s words had been distorted, and that he had simply been saying that women were not able to put in so many hours of work. However Ms Levchenko is adamant that there is a recording of his address and that there was no distortion.

She says that they have also lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Ombudsperson, however there has been no response.

From a report by Olha Vesnyanka at http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5433991,00.html

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