22 January 2003


Press Release

Committee on Elimination of

Discrimination against Women



But experts Regret Delays in Process

To Remove Country’s Reservation to Convention

Commending Luxembourg for its deep commitment and obvious desire to promoting gender equality, expert members of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women also expressed disappointment at the slow pace of legislative reform in the country. 

The Committee’s 23 experts, who, in their personal capacity monitor compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, were considering Luxembourg’s fourth periodic report in two meetings today.

While describing Luxembourg’s numerous legislative efforts as praiseworthy, several experts also regretted delays in the process to remove Luxembourg’s reservations to the Convention.  France’s expert said that the process to include gender equality in Luxembourg’s Constitution had been underway for several years.  Noting a contradiction between the goals of the Women’s Convention and the evolution of Luxembourg’s laws, she urged the country’s to move forward with the necessary Constitutional amendments.

[Luxembourg ratified the Convention in 1989 with two reservations.  The reservation to article 7 on political and public life was put forward on the grounds in that the rules for succession to the Crown of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are based on male primogeniture.  Reservations to article 16 –- marriage and family life –- relates to a child’s patronymic name.]

Several experts also expressed disappointment that Luxembourg had not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention.  As Luxembourg was one of the first countries to sign the Optional Protocol, experts expressed their desire to see the ratification process completed.  [The Optional Protocol of December 2000 entitles the Committee to consider petitions from individuals or groups of women who have exhausted national remedies and to conduct inquiries into grave or systematic violations of the Convention.]

Experts also expressed concern about the sexual exploitation of women, especially as it related to Luxembourg’s large immigrant population.  The best way to combat trafficking was to fight prostitution, the expert of Hungary said.  With no market or demand, there would be no trafficking.

Introducing Luxembourg’s report, Marie-Josee Jacobs, Minister for the Advancement of Women, said that bills on the approval of the Optional Protocol as well as the amendment to article 20.1 of the Convention had been deposited in 2001 with the Chamber of Deputies, which had already indicated its agreement.  She expected that ratification of the Optional Protocol would take effect shortly after its consideration by the Parliamentary Assembly.  She was also optimistic that the inclusion of the principle of gender equality in the Constitution would soon be adopted.

Responding to delegates’ queries, she said the flow of immigrants into Luxembourg was considerable.  Some 1,000 people sought refugee in Luxembourg every year.  Those who qualified for asylum status received housing, shelter, food, pocket money, health care, free transportation and language training.  Foreign workers were entitled to the same rights as Luxembourg citizens.  The laws applied in equal measure to nationals as well as foreign workers.  While trafficking in women using Luxembourg visas did occur, the Government feared, however, that traffickers would go underground if visas were rescinded.

Regarding the slow pace of legislative change, she said Luxembourg usually had coalition governments of two parties, which agreed on draft bills.  The Government prepared the draft laws, and deputies could make proposals on them.  They were then presented to the Chamber of Deputies, which provided advice.  The process did indeed take a long time, which could be frustrating.  On the other hand, once the coalition Government agreed to implement a bill, it was done.  

Concluding the meeting, Committee Chairperson, Feride Acar of Turkey, said that the speedy removal of Luxembourg’s reservations to the Convention would send a powerful message not only to Luxembourg society but also to the international community.

The Committee will meet again tomorrow, 23 January, at 10 a.m. to consider Canada’s fifth periodic report.


The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women met today to consider the fourth periodic report of Luxembourg (document CEDAW/C/LUX/4) submitted in compliance with article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Luxembourg ratified in 1989.   The report covers the period from 1998 to 2002, and focuses in particular on the Committee's recommendations following its consideration of Luxembourg's third periodic report in 2000.

Regarding the inclusion of gender equality within Luxembourg's Constitution, the report says that planned amendments to the Constitution will be adopted during the 2000 to 2004 legislative term.  A draft amendment includes a provision specifying that "women and men have equal rights and duties".  It also says that the State may adopt specific measures to guarantee de facto equality in the exercise of rights and duties.

The report describes recent laws which embody the principle of equality between men and women, including the 1999 Law with respect to National Plan of Action.  Among that Law’s provisions is the obligation to discuss the establishment of an equality plan when collective agreements are negotiated in the private sector; parental leave; and measures to promote the employment of women.  Other laws address issues such as occupational training, sexual harassment, the burden of proof in cases of discrimination; and protection for workers who are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.

The report also states that Luxembourg adopted the Beijing +5 National Plan of Action in June 2001.  The Plan of Action introduces a gender mainstreaming approach with respect to the gender dimension in all aspects of policy.  The Government also affirms its commitment to organize positive actions and take positive temporary measures to establish true gender equality in all areas where discrimination exists.

Regarding Luxembourg's reservations to the Convention, the report says that the reservation to article 7 is based on the fact that the rules for succession to the Crown of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which are based on male primogeniture, are embodied in Luxembourg's Constitution.  Withdrawal of the reservation requires an amendment to the Constitution, and the constitutional provision in question  has not been declared "amendable".  Luxembourg's Constitution does not permit a constitutional provision to be declared amendable during the course of a legislative term.  Legislative work to remove Luxembourg’s reservation to

article 16 of the Convention -- that relating to a child's patronymic name -- is currently under way.

Polices have been taken to change behaviour and stereotypes, the report states.  Several legislative policies have been adopted, including the introduction of parental leave for both fathers and mothers; the obligation to negotiate an equality plan as part of the negotiation of collective agreements; the introduction of positive actions in private-sector enterprises; and the law on protection from sexual harassment in the context of working relations.  Many awareness and orientation actions are being organized for women who re-enter the workforce.

The situation of women in the labour force is examined each year in Luxembourg within the framework of its National Action Plan on Employment, the report says.  The Government has planned a major campaign focusing on the pay gap between women and men.  The project, which has received financial assistance from the European Commission, is entitled "Pay equality and the challenge of democratic economic development". 

In 1999, the Government made a commitment to enacting legislation for the removal of persons from the family home who commit acts of domestic violence, the report states.  Draft legislation on violence was tabled in the Chamber of Deputies in May 2001.  Among its provisions, the bill would provide the Government with the necessary tools for gathering data on domestic violence. 

The reform to the Civil Service Statute contains several measures to reconcile family and work life.  They include:  expanding opportunities for part-time employment; rehiring of women public servants obliged to resign prior to 1984 for the purpose of raising their children; refresher training courses; and, enhanced flexibility in the organization of work schedules.

Introduction of Report

MARIE-JOSEE JACOBS, Minister for the Advancement of Women, introducing Luxembourg’s fourth periodic report, said the Ministry for the Advancement of Women had been established in 1995.  All government actions were analysed from the viewpoint of the implementation of the anti-discrimination Convention, and in following up the Committee’s previous recommendations, many positive actions had been taken.  The Committee’s report and recommendations had been broadly distributed throughout the Government and civil society.  A manual on the Convention for young people had been updated and distributed to school children, and the Government had reaffirmed its commitment to the gender dimension in all political areas.  A survey of actions had been established as part of Luxembourg’s Beijing +5 National Plan of Action.

A bill to approve the Optional Protocol to the Convention had been deposited in 2001 with the Chamber of Deputies.  That bill also included the amendment to article 20.1 of the Convention, she said, and the Chamber had indicated its agreement with the bill.  The Commission on Gender Equality and the Advancement of Women had also recommended that favourable action be taken on the bill.  She expected that Ratification of the Optional Protocol would take effect shortly after its consideration by the Parliamentary Assembly.  The inclusion of the principle of gender equality in the Constitution was still being reviewed since agreement had not been found on all the paragraphs in the article concerned.  She was optimistic that the text would be adopted during the current legislative period.

The same held for the reservation to article 7 of the Convention on the succession to the Crown, she continued.  The current constitutional schedule did not make a constitutional provision revisable.  The legislative body had the right to declare that there could be an amendment of a constitutional provision that it designated.  That would make it possible to make the revision regarding the succession to the Crown.  Regarding the second reservation, a bill had been deposited in 2001.  The reservation regarding the name of the child would be removed prior to the submission of the second report, she believed.

Regarding recent legislative changes, she announced the adoption of a law against sexual harassment in 2000.  Sexual harassment continued to persist, despite the new legislative provisions.  While the number of complaints received were few, many people suffered from sexual discrimination in the workplace.  An information guide on the law was being provided for employers.  According to a bill on conjugal violence, women would no longer be forced to leave the family home, and the perpetrator of the violence would no longer be able to stay in the home.  a group on family violence had been set up and was providing training at police academies.  Many public relations-awareness campaigns were being carried out and included the opening of shelters and translation into Portuguese of information on shelters.  The focus in 2003 would be in the training of police.

Regarding migration and trafficking in human beings, she said many people requested asylum in Luxembourg.  Flows from the former Yugoslavia, in particular Montenegro, had been considerable and numbered some 1,000 per year.  Luxembourg provided a legal framework for asylum requests.  Once a request had been made, it was reviewed by the Ministry of Justice.  The duration of asylum varied from six months to three years.  Refugees received housing, shelter, meals, pocket money, health care, free transportation and language training.  Specific care was given to women travelling alone and to single parent families.  A second group -– pregnant women -- were given housing in the best possible areas near to health care.  Women interpreters were also provided.  In 2003, a project entitled, “For Women, with Women”, had been established by a non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide a place for psychological support. 

Trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation were akin to slavery, she said.  Investing in the economic development of poor countries would help to reduce migration.  Luxembourg had been the target of criticism on its procedure to grant authorization for performing artists.  There were specific provisions in that area, and the delegation was ready to provide information.

On the impact of the May 1999 law on sexual exploitation, she said there were no cases currently before the courts in that area.  A campaign against the sexual exploitation of children was currently under way, and education of children continued to be a concern.  Integrating gender equality and democracy must be done as early as possible for all players in society.  Women and men were being provided training in the areas of stereotypes and socialization.  Experts, both men and women, were in the process of establishing an enterprise to create awareness of positive actions.  Training of men and women delegates in the private sector would also continue.

The study on the impact of gender in professional development had been prepared in 2002, she said.   Young women were beginning to change their professional activities, and the concept of women remaining at home had lost much of its relevance.  There had been greater equality in the distribution of family responsibilities between men and women, as the number of men attending to family matters had increased.  Men now comprised some 13 per cent of the people given parental leave.  That was a major success.  In 2003, a campaign to promote parental leave for men would take place.

The number of women in the workforce was increasing, she added.  Measures to integrate young women and to bring women back to the workplace had been made part of the National Plan for Employment.  A general rule had been defined to determine conditions for post-school services, and government financial aid was used to construct facilities.  Discounts for child care were given to parents in lower- income brackets.  A number of the municipalities had expanded their own day-care centres outside school hours, and 60 out of 118 municipalities currently had structures to deal with children at the preschool and elementary levels.  In

33 communities, students were taken care of throughout the year, including during vacation periods.

Professional guidance and training courses were being organized to help women re-enter the workplace, she said.  To reduce the gap between men and women’s salaries, a project, entitled “Equal pay, a democratic and legal challenge”, had been implemented last year.  Trade unions had adopted action plans to fight the pay gap.  A study carried on wage inequality showed a 28 per cent salary gap between men and women.  To reduce the gap, companies were to adopt programmes to categorize jobs.

A key element for achieving equality was changing mentalities, she said.  Women would not be able to have the same jobs unless they had the same educational levels.  Career interruption severely comprised women’s income.  Reform of part-time work and improving the degree to which equality was introduced in the private sector was anticipated.  Discussions with civil society partners on salary and wage gaps had triggered increased awareness of equality issues.  The Government had succeeded in persuading social partners and leaders to cooperate in meeting the challenge of removing salary and wage gaps.  At the legislative level, bills had been submitted on domestic violence, the Optional Protocol, the adoption of the amendment to article 20.1 of the Convention, and on moral harassment in the workplace.

Expert Comments and Questions

AYSE FERIDE ACAR, expert from Turkey and Chairperson of the Committee, commended Luxembourg for its timely reporting.  She was happy to hear that the country had taken the Committee’s recommendations to the appropriate levels of Government and praised the resulting legislative amendments and policy amendments. However, she was disappointed that it had yet to ratify the Optional Protocol, since Luxembourg was among the initial countries that had signed it.  She was pleased that the country’s Constitution would be amended with respect to male descendency, and the consequent withdrawal of the country’s reservation to

article 7 of the Convention.  Regarding the issue of the patronymic names, she urged Luxembourg to amend that provision of the Constitution in a timely manner.

HANNA BEATE SCHOPP-SCHILLING, expert from Germany, said Luxembourg’s report was over-descriptive and encouraged the country to be more action-oriented in future.  She then asked for clarification on action plans for the advancement of women in private firms.

FRANÇOISE GASPARD, expert from France, noted a contradiction between the goals of the Convention and the evolution of Luxembourg’s laws.  The revision process of the Constitution regarding article 7 of the Convention had been under way for several years, and she asked whether it would be completed during the current revision period.  She also mentioned other “draft laws” the country had drawn up to comply with the Convention, and wondered when they would be adopted. She urged Luxembourg to move forward with its constitutional amendments.

CORNELIS FLINTERMAN, expert from the Netherlands, said the status of the Convention within Luxembourg’s legal system remained to be clarified.  The Government had said the Convention could be invoked before the courts, since it had been approved by the country’s Parliament, but who would decide that the provisions of a human rights instrument would be applied –- the Government or the judiciary?  He also asked why no case law related to the Convention.  Was that because the Convention’s provisions were not directly applicable?

KRISZTINA MORVAI, expert from Hungary, said Luxembourg’s report showed the country’s clear commitment with respect to the advancement of women.  However, she noted that the attitude of the report towards prostitution and trafficking was not in line with that philosophy.  How could Luxembourg talk about sexual equality when prostitution existed in the country, and men paid to treat women as objects. The country should be helping women leave prostitution or prevent them from entering it.

DUBRAVKA SIMONOVIC, expert from Croatia, asked for clarification with respect to the Convention and incorporating it into the country’s legal system. Were the country’s lawyers fully educated and aware of the Convention?  What was the percentage of women in the judiciary?

HEISOO SHIN, expert from the Republic of Korea, said the report was confusing because of the way it was written, and suggested it be presented more clearly in future.  She was also surprised that only six cases of sexual harassment had appeared in 2000-2002 and asked why that was the case.  Also, how were equality delegates selected in the private sector, since more of those were men than women?

FUMIKO SAIGA, expert from Japan, said some of the country’s replies in the report were rather blunt, with no comments or statistics.  For example, surely the Government possessed data on domestic violence that could be included in the report.

REGINA TAVARES DA SILVA, expert from Portugal, said she was unclear about Luxembourg’s position on article 7 of the Convention, and commented on the country’s slow pace in amending its Constitution in that respect.  She also commented on the report’s treatment of sex workers, which made prostitution sound like a natural fact of life.

Country Response

Ms. JACOBS said Luxembourg usually had coalition governments of two parties, which agreed on draft bills.  The Government prepared the draft laws and deputies could make proposals on them.  They were then presented to the Chamber of Deputies, which provided advice.

There was also the Legal Committee, she said.  The Chamber of Deputies provided opinion on reservations to the Convention.  It did indeed take a long time, which could be frustrating.  On the other hand, once the coalition Government had recognized that a bill was going to be implemented, it was done.  The draft bill on domestic violence was now being considered by the Council of State.  The same applied to the patronymic bill before the Chamber.

A number of members had asked about positive actions taking place in private companies, she said.  Social partners were obligated to negotiate gender equality plans.   The entrepreneurs themselves were interested in positive actions that would keep employees in companies.

As to reservations, she would have liked to have reported that the inclusion in the Constitution of equal opportunities with the obligation to take special measures.  Regarding the succession to the Crown, the Duchy had agreed to change in that direction.  The prevailing political opinion in the country supported constitutional change, rather than an interfamilial pact with the Duchy’s family.

On the issue of prostitution, she said the matter was very much being discussed in Luxembourg.  With 100,000 people crossing the border every day for work purposes, Luxembourg faced many problems because of its proximity to other major countries.  Luxembourg was against the phenomenon of pimping, which was a reality.  The country also opposed the ill treatment of prostitutes by those engaged in pimping.  Around the major railway station in the capital city, prostitution involving people from other countries was a problem.

On visa questions and trafficking in people, she said the delegation would welcome the Committee’s proposals, as those issues had been matters of much discussion.  The trade in people, drugs and weapons was widespread.  She would be obliged to the Committee for its expert advice on measures to deal with the scourge of trafficking.

Regarding sexual harassment, efforts to inform both trade unions and equality delegates within companies continued, she said.  Luxembourg’s major cities had more foreigners than its own citizens.  The phenomenon of working women was not part of Luxembourg’s tradition.

VIVIANE ECKER, Adviser, Lawyer and Independent Expert to the Minister for the Advancement of Women, said the Convention took precedence over national law.  The Convention had been invoked in three cases in which the courts had had a chance to imply interpretative powers.  In two cases, the courts took the view that the provisions invoked did not give rise to individual rights.  One case had to do with the family name.  The courts had ruled that the provisions of the Convention were not precise enough to be directly applicable.  That was Luxembourg’s jurisprudence.  Luxembourg often emulated the jurisprudence from either France or Belgium.

Regarding normative temporary measures, article 11 of the Constitution would be revised to include a provision in which specific positive measures would become a part of the Constitution.  Once the Constitution was amended, positive measures would be in place.

Ms. JACOBS agreed that more statistics were needed in certain areas.

MADDY MULHEIMS, Government Adviser for the Minister for the Advancement of Women, said action to provide more jobs for women must be seen as part of the 1998 nationwide job action plan.  The institution of equality delegates had been set up as part of that, and adoption of the law on the establishment of equality delegates dated from 2000.  Half the delegates were men.  In fact, the delegates were elected when company elections were held.  Delegates were trained and given insights into how to manage complaints from all salaried staff.  Many different companies had not yet appointed equality delegates -- that situation would most likely change this year.

Regarding normative temporary measures, she said Luxembourg had begun moving towards a culture of equality.  Efforts were under way to bring trade unions and employers together to discuss how to take positive action.  Companies had a keen interest in subsidies to finance positive action with a view to better managing their own people.  Salary and wage equality-projects must achieve sensitization at the employer and trade levels.  A gender-neutral approach to job classification was one such example.

SJAMSIAH ACHMAD, expert from Indonesia, said she was concerned about the notion that the large number of women in NGOs made it easy for them to express their opinion.  Were those opinions then limited to social and cultural problems, excluding political and other issues of serious consequence?  She was also disappointed at the lack of statistics in Luxembourg’s report, some of which had been requested by the Committee.

MERIEM BELMIHOUB-ZERDANI, expert from Algeria, commented that Luxembourg had not yet ensured women’s participation in politics, and stressed that women needed to be present in the decision-making process.  The country had acknowledged that women in Parliament had increased from 18.5 per cent to 20 per cent as a result of the last two elections, but that proportion was far from gender equality.  Why could the country not draw up a draft law to empower women in Parliament? Subsidies should be provided to parties that had women in their lists, and women could also be appointed to various governmental positions.

Country Response

Ms. JACOBS said her Ministry had proposed special subsidies for political parties promoting women, but the proposals had not been adopted because the parties had not agreed.  Sometimes it was difficult to change the mindsets of men, and bring about change.  Politics was also a difficult profession, and women were more reluctant than men to enter it.  Women had more obligations in the family than men, added to their professional lives. If they could not reconcile political and family life, many women would not take the step into politics.

CHRISTINE DOENER, President of the National Council of Women, said the Council had undertaken many positive efforts to provide women with assistance at all levels. The Council was a federation of women in Luxembourg bridging the interests of individual women and the Ministry for the Advancement of Women.  Women in the Council could apply pressure to ensure that parties took measures to advance women, including placing more women on their lists.

The Council’s greatest effort, she continued, was in promoting policies at the local level, which were aimed at creating equal opportunity commissions and gender equality. There was also a national effort -- made possible through support from the Ministry for the Advancement of Women -- to make women more visible in terms of electoral lists.  A legal expert in the Council contributed to efforts focusing on women’s employment.

The Council also provided advice about all laws affecting women, so that the Ministry could intervene to that end.  The Council had a special team dealing with social rights, which gave free courses abroad.  In addition, the Council convened quarterly meetings on policy for the advancement of women, and held courses on seminars and rhetoric, so that women could learn to speak in public.  The aim was to interest women in becoming more involved at the political level, both nationally and locally.

Experts Comments and Questions

SALMA KHAN, expert from Bangladesh, asked for an explanation for the number of foreign guest workers.  Why had Luxembourg had not been able to create enough interest among local Luxembourg women to participate in the workforce?  When she looked at the wage disparity, she wondered if Luxembourg was enjoying economic development at the cost of cheap labour.  Further, she wondered if guest workers were given long-term or casual appointments, in which case they did not receive benefits.  Benefits and wages were much lower in the private sector.  Were foreign workers able to find employment in the public sector?  Among the reasons for women staying were lower educational levels and the lack of childcare.  The unemployment rate among national women aged 15 to 24 years was quite high.

AKUA KUENYEHIA, expert from Ghana, said she was impressed with the detailed information on the issue.  The Government seemed to pay close attention to the issue.  She was intrigued, however, that the report had not said anything about HIV/AIDS, and asked for more information on it.

FATIMA KWAKU, expert from Nigeria, asked for information on rural women, including the law for rural development.  To what extent were rural women benefiting from that law?

Ms. SAIGA, expert from Japan, asked about the new pension law and its affect on women.  She assumed that the Government had calculated how the law would positively affect women.

NAELA GABR, expert from Egypt, said she found no reference to elderly women, which was an important issue.  The percentage of aged women was rising.  What was being done in that regard?

HUGUETTE BOKPE GNACADJE, expert from Benin, said equality before the law was an important issue.  The report indicated that de jure equality was one step towards achieving de facto equality.  The report fell short in its response to article 15 of the Convention.  It painted a picture of de jure inequality.  Sentences for sexual abuse, for example, differed.  What legislative measures were being envisaged to correct de jure inequalities?  What machinery would be used to provide positive change?  Did the courts apply the laws already on the books?  The response to article 16 was limited to patronymic name.  What about the right to enter into marriage or dissolve it?

Country Response

Ms. JACOBS said the report had been briefer than in the past, primarily because they did not wish to repeat information.

Foreign workers had the same rights as Luxembourg’s citizens, she said.  Those who lived in Luxembourg received the same benefits.  There was no discrimination in the work place.  Luxembourg’s European partners would not allow that.  The laws applied in equal measure to nationals, as well as foreign workers.  They did not have to work longer hours.  Regarding the low level of Luxembourg women working, as compared to foreign workers, part of the tradition in Luxembourg had been to stay home once married.  It was difficult for many families to ensure that their children were properly cared for, because of a lack of day-care centres.

Regarding HIV/AIDS, she regretted the oversight in the report.  HIV/AIDS did afflict men and women in Luxembourg.  More time would be needed to provide statistics.  Efforts were being made to alert young people to the consequences of HIV/AIDS.  On another issue, she said being a Luxembourg woman had nothing to do with receiving agricultural subsidies.  There were fewer people working the land and the Government was seeking to promote rural development and rural tourism. 

Regarding the question on pensions, many women had never had a full career, she said.  People would rather pay into an account.  If you worked longer, you would get greater benefits.  Also, Luxembourg had a growing number of elderly women, and the Government was trying to meet their needs.  For people 80 years or over, there were 300 women for every 100 men who were institutionalized.  Assuring the autonomy of the elderly was important.

Ms. ECKER said that equality for women before the law in Luxembourg had been achieved in the 1970s and 1980s, during the period when the country was adopting the Convention.  However, a lengthy process was involved in the transformation from formal to actual equality.

Women had the same access to the courts as men, she said, and there were two mechanisms in place ensuring their access to the justice system.  One was a reception information service in the system, while the other was judicial assistance for people with low incomes.

Comments and Questions by Experts

HANNA BEATE SCHOPP-SCHILLING, expert from Germany, asked if Luxembourg referred to the Convention as a justification when it was drawing up new legislation.

CORNELIS FLINTERMAN, expert from the Netherlands, noted that the judiciary in general was somewhat conservative when it came to acknowledging international treaties in court, especially if a conflict existed with national law.  Did the Luxembourg Government believe the provisions of the Convention were directly applicable in court cases?  Did the Government plan to openly declare that the Convention’s provisions were directly applicable in such cases when it ratified the Optional Protocol?  The direct applicability of the Convention was instrumental in furthering women’s human rights in the country, he stressed, as was educating the judicial system.

KRISZTINA MORVAI, expert from Hungary, asked whether cabaret workers were given privileged visas when they entered the country.  If so, what was the justification for that?  Urging the country to eliminate such a visa, she said the best way to combat trafficking was to fight prostitution, which simply strengthened old stereotypes.  With no market or demand, there would be no trafficking.  Men, she stressed, should also be drawn into the issue and made more aware of the connection between prostitution and trafficking.

FRANCOISE GASPARD, expert from France, asked what happened to a married immigrant woman’s residence status if she divorced, considering she was not granted independent status upon arrival.  Was she allowed to stay in the country?

Country Response

Ms. JACOBS noted that Luxembourg had obligations under European directives, which did not run counter to the Convention itself.  However, Luxembourg was interested in amending some of the more binding European directives, particularly in the areas of labour law and social exclusion.  Also, there were many areas that had not yet been covered by European directives.  Luxembourg had held conferences and training sessions on women’s rights, but it was difficult to find people from the legal profession who wished to take part.  Noting that the Convention was not hugely popular among the legal profession, she said training should be extended to beginning lawyers and judges.

Luxembourg was thinking of doing away with visas to cabaret workers, she continued, but the issue had not yet been resolved.  Yes, trafficking in women using Luxembourg visas occurred, but the Government feared that traffickers would go underground if visas were rescinded, and then could not be tracked.  Luxembourg was currently campaigning against prostitution by training young people, and would soon have a major conference on women and prostitution.  The young must be taught that no one was entitled to “buy someone else” for trafficking or other purposes. 

Concluding Comments

Ms. ACAR thanked the country experts for their comments and questions, and the delegation for the constructive dialogue it had held with the Committee.  She looked forward to the removal of Luxembourg’s reservations about the Convention, particularly regarding Article 7 on accession to the crown and Article 16 on patronymic names.  Removing those reservations would send a powerful message to Luxembourg and international society.  She also looked forward to the country’s ratification of the Optional Protocol.

The Committee appreciated the steps Luxembourg had taken to amend and draw up new legislation.  However, more information was needed in its next report about actual efforts on the ground as well as results of policies that had been applied.  The Committee would like to see visible advancement as concerned women’s participation in political decision-making and women’s employment as well as a transformation of Luxembourg’s “mind sets” regarding women’s rights.

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For information media. Not an official record.