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Today Engender launched a paper, written by Professor Nicole Busby and Professor Muriel Robison discussing whether incorporating CEDAW into Scots Law would result in better realisation of rights for women in Scotland. It explores what impact incorportion would have on women's equality, sets out how incorporation could happen, and discusses other legal mechanisms which might be needed for women's rights to be fully realised in Scotland
The paper was launched at an event in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law at Strathclyde University.
Speaking at the launch, Engender's Executive Director Emma Ritch said:
"We're delighted to launch this paper which shows that CEDAW, the UN bill of rights for women, should be incorporated into Scots Law; ensuring the maximum protection and promotion of women's rights we can. For 25 years Engender has been working for women's equality, and throughout this work it is clear that women's rights are not some abstract concept, but integral to all aspects of women's daily lived. The rights which are meant to be protected under CEDAW are being violated every day, and now is the time to ensure that we take every measure we can for women's equality."
Imagine two women; one lives in Belfast; the other in Edinburgh. Both women have decided to terminate their pregnancy. The one in Edinburgh is covered by the 1967 Abortion Act. She’ll need to seek approval from two doctors before proceeding, and has other barriers to overcome, but she has access to a safe and legal abortion. For the woman in Northern Ireland, the situation is one of the worst in the western world. The abortion law dates to 1861, so it’s hardly surprising that terminations are heavily restricted: an abortion is only available if there is a serious, permanent or long-term risk to the life or health of the woman. For the woman in Belfast, a termination will involve extensive planning and travelling, as well as emotional and financial costs. As she cannot exercise her reproductive rights at home, she will have to leave and travel across the sea to terminate her pregnancy, purchase illegal medicine online, or continue with an unwanted or unviable pregnancy.
The images of the Yes campaign in Ireland are still imprinted in my mind: pictures of women campaigning under banners of “Together for Yes”; the bold white “REPEAL” letters on black jumpers; the red heart emblazoned with “Repeal the 8th”; and #hometovote. It was only last week that the Yes campaign won, but it already feels like an age. Almost as soon as the last constituency results were announced, our collective gaze shifted north to focus on the punitive, regressive law that remains in place in Northern Ireland. While mainstream attention to the abortion law in Northern Ireland is long overdue, confusion has set in over how women’s reproductive rights can be realised in Northern Ireland.
Engender, Rape Crisis Scotland, and Scottish Women’s Aid are disappointed by the recommendations in the inquiry’s report. The question of how to tackle misogynistic online abuse, sexual harassment in public spaces, and incitement to misogyny is one being raised worldwide. Women and girls face epidemic levels of misogynistic hate in schools, in the workplace, on city streets, and online. We called for a standalone misogynistic hate crime to be created in Scotland as a way of disrupting this epidemic.
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