|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Committee on Elimination of
Discrimination against Women
Chamber B, 797th & 798th Meetings (AM & PM)
LIECHTENSTEIN, IN PRESENTATION TO WOMEN’S ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE,
REPORTS NEED FOR FURTHER ACTION TOWARDS ACHIEVING DE FACTO EQUALITY
While Liechtenstein had achieved “almost complete” equality between women and men at the legal level, further action was needed to translate it into practical reality, the country’s delegation reported today as it made its presentation to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
For that reason, Liechtenstein continued to promote measures aimed at better reconciling family obligations and employment, and enhancing women’s participation in political and economic decision-making, Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said in presenting his country’s combined reports.
The Committee monitors implementation by States parties of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It was considering Liechtenstein’s second and third periodic reports in Chamber B. The country ratified the Convention in 1996 and its Optional Protocol in 2002.
Mr. Wenaweser said that, having withdrawn one of its two initial reservations to the Convention, Liechtenstein still reserved the right to apply, with respect to all the treaty’s obligations, article 3 of its Constitution, which recognizes the autonomy of the Princely House of Liechtenstein with respect to arrangements relating to the hereditary succession to the throne, the age of majority of the Reigning and Hereditary Princes, and guardian arrangements in that regard.
As explained in the delegation’s responses to questions posed by the Committee’s pre-session working group, the Law on the Princely House is an autonomous law of association, outside the legislation of the State. Due to Liechtenstein’s dual State system, legal norms arising from the autonomy of the Princely House that affect the State require the agreement of Parliament.
While commending the numerous measures taken by Liechtenstein to promote gender equality, and encouraging the country to remove that reservation, several experts also stated that the Government was too passive with respect to the introduction of special temporary measures for the advancement of women. Since there were many indicators that showed that equality had not yet been achieved in certain spheres, proactive measures had to be taken, one expert said.
In that connection, members of the delegation stressed that the Government did indeed want to increase women’s participation in political life, but its understanding was that article 4.1 of the Convention did not necessarily oblige States to create a quota system. The matter had been discussed, but there was not enough political support to introduce such a system “in a wholesale manner”.
During the period under review, additional legal steps had been taken as part of Liechtenstein’s equality policy, Mr. Wenaweser said. In December 2004, Parliament had incorporated European Union Directive 2002/73/EC on equal treatment of men and women in the workplace, amending the 1999 Gender Equality Act accordingly. New legal provisions on parental leave promoted the compatibility of career and family, while the revision of pension schemes improved the situation of part-time employees. Measures to prevent violence against women included the revision of the Code of Civil Procedure, to enhance the protection of victims, and the development of the Victims Protection Act, adopted on 21 June this year and due to enter into force in April 2008.
He added that Liechtenstein had been a member of the European Economic Area since 1995, and approximately two thirds of European Union law applied in the country. In the last 10 years, Liechtenstein had adopted more than 4,400 European Union legal Acts, including the directive on the burden of proof in cases of discrimination based on sex, and the directive on parental leave. The country participated in about 30 European Union programmes in the fields of education, research and development, culture, emergency management, public health, and equal opportunity, among others.
During their interactive dialogue with the delegation, experts made comments and posed questions on all aspects of the situation of women in Liechtenstein, including measures to reduce unemployment, availability of child-care facilities, education, women’s health issues, migrant women, Government’s efforts to combat gender stereotypes, and women’s family life. One expert asked why the 1999 Gender Equality Act was restricted to employment and labour, and why its application had not been extended to all spheres of public and private life, as the Committee had recommended in 1999.
The Committee will take up Kenya’s combined fifth and sixth periodic reports tomorrow, Friday, 27 July.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women met in Chamber B this morning to take up the second and third periodic reports of Liechtenstein (documents CEDAW/C/LIE/2 and CEDAW/C/LIE/3).
Liechtenstein’s delegation was headed by Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Its other members were: Bernadette Kubik, Director of the Office for Equal Opportunities; Patrick Ritter, Deputy Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the United Nations; Esther Schindler, First Secretary, Office for Foreign Affairs; and Margaret Keppler, interpreter.
Introduction of Reports
Mr. WENAWESER presented the reports, saying his country considered all human rights to be universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. Liechtenstein attached great importance to international and regional human rights agreements and their implementation, even though that was not always easy for a small country with limited human resources.
He said the legal equality of women and men had been enshrined in the country’s Constitution in 1992, and Liechtenstein had ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1996. Since then, the Government had engaged in vigorous efforts to realize the principle of equality. Any international agreement ratified by the country became part of national law, without the necessity of adopting a special law, as long as the provisions of the agreement were specific enough to serve as a basis for decision.
During the period under review, additional legal steps had been taken as part of Liechtenstein’s equality policy, he said. In December 2004, Parliament had incorporated European Union Directive 2002/73/EC on equal treatment of men and women in the workplace, amending the 1999 Gender Equality Act accordingly. New legal provisions on parental leave promoted the compatibility of career and family, while the revision of pension schemes improved the situation of part-time employees. Having ratified the Convention’s Optional Protocol in 2002, Liechtenstein had since accepted the Committee’s authority to review alleged violations of the treaty.
Thanks to those legal foundations, legal equality of women and men had been achieved “almost completely”, though further action was still needed as far as de facto equality was concerned, he said. For that reason, Liechtenstein continued to promote measures aimed at better reconciling family obligations and employment, and enhancing women’s participation in political and economic decision-making. Because of the strong connections linking those areas and traditional gender roles, a change of awareness was being promoted in order to eliminate gender stereotypes.
He said measures to prevent violence against women included the revision of the Code of Civil Procedure, to enhance the protection of victims, and the development of the Victims Protection Act, adopted on 21 June this year and due to enter into force in April 2008. The Criminal Procedure Code had been amended to improve the legal standing of victims by establishing a procedural right to respectful treatment and the greatest possible protection. In particular, the interests of young victims and victims of sexual offences would be better taken into account. One of the most important achievements was protective questioning, whereby the witness subject to protection was questioned separately from the perpetrator. The expanded right to refuse statements ensured that victims in particular need of protection must, in general, only appear once before the court. Provisions were also in place to enable victims to receive compensation from the State for material and non-material injury suffered.
Liechtenstein had been a member of the European Economic Area since 1995, he said, with the consequence that approximately two thirds of European Union law applied in the country. In the last 10 years, Liechtenstein had adopted more than 4,400 European Union legal acts, including the directive on the burden of proof in cases of discrimination based on sex, and the directive on parental leave. Also within the European Economic Area framework, the country participated on equal terms in about 30 European Union programmes in the fields of education, research and development, culture, emergency management, public health, and equal opportunity, among others. This year had seen Liechtenstein’s participation in the “European Year of Equal Opportunities for All”. By the end of 2007, results were expected from several studies and surveys conducted by the Office of Social Affairs and the Office of Equal Opportunity on poverty, age discrimination, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and discrimination against homosexuals. A meeting on gender medicine and equal opportunity in the workplace was also planned.
Experts’ Comments and Questions
As the Committee’s experts began their detailed consideration of Liechtenstein’s compliance with the Convention, several commended the numerous measures taken to promote gender equality since the presentation of the country’s last report.
DUBRAVKA SIMONOVIC, expert from Croatia, asked whether there were any court cases in which the Convention had been invoked. What awareness-raising programmes were there to educate students about the treaty? Did Liechtenstein invoke the Convention’s article 4.1 on temporary special measures?
CORNELIS FLINTERMAN, expert from the Netherlands, asked why the 1999 Gender Equality Act was restricted to employment and labour, and why its application had not been extended to all spheres of public and private life, as the Committee had recommended in 1999. Was Liechtenstein thinking of doing so? How many women had made use of the Act, and how many court proceedings had been instituted under its provisions? Had courts invoked the Convention in such cases? How realistic was it for women to opt for court procedures to settle claims?
He said he was pleased with Liechtenstein’s decision to withdraw its reservation on article 9 (2) of the Convention, but expressed disappointment that it had maintained its reservation to article 1 with respect to article 3, which relates to the hereditary succession to the throne within the country’s Princely House.
MARIA REGINA TAVARES DA SILVA, expert from Portugal, referred to the upgrading of the Office of Gender Equality to the Office for Equal Opportunities, asking whether the new Office enjoyed a higher status or had merely been given a wider scope of issues to address. Was the new Office part of the Government structure, serving under the Ministry of Equal Opportunity? Who funded it? Was it truly independent?
Asking the delegation to elaborate on the scope of action to promote gender equality, she noted that many of Liechtenstein’s gender equity policies were founded on European Union directives. Why were not those policies based on provisions of the Convention?
FUMIKO SAIGA, expert from Japan, asked whether the new Office of Equal Opportunities was the main centre and first place of recourse for women. How many women were using it that way, and what services did it offer them? Had there been improvements since the upgrade?
Mr. WENAWESER said the Convention’s provisions were directly applicable in Liechtenstein’s courts, but the number of times the treaty had been invoked was not immediately available, and he would try to obtain the data during the lunch break. Article 4.1 on temporary special measures was directly applicable. Liechtenstein was not currently considering the adoption of more comprehensive legislation to expand the Gender Equality Act. Article 1 of the Convention was directly applicable, and efforts would be made to obtain statistics on relevant court proceedings during the lunch break.
As for why women’s rights legislation was based more on European Union directives than on the Convention, he said the European Union Convention on Human Rights was more deeply ingrained in the national consciousness than was the Convention. Liechtenstein’s accession to the Council of Europe was a source of national pride, and its nationals usually went to Strasbourg to lodge complaints about alleged human rights violations.
Another delegate said that, while the country had withdrawn its reservation to article 9.2 of the Convention, it maintained its reservation to article 1 of the Convention, with respect to obligations under article 3 of its Constitution, specifying procedures for hereditary succession to the throne within the Princely House of Liechtenstein, the age of majority of the Reigning and Hereditary Princes and guardian arrangements in that regard. The Law on the Princely House was an autonomous law of association, outside the legislation of the State. Due to the country’s dual State system, legal norms arising from the autonomy of the Princely House that affected the State required the agreement of Parliament.
Another delegate said Liechtenstein did have temporary special measures, but they were not legally enforceable. The country offered courses four times a year to encourage women’s participation in politics, in addition to women’s empowerment classes and training in carpentry and other non-traditional occupations.
She said the Equal Opportunity Act defined discrimination as cases in which a person’s gender placed them at a disadvantage. Under the law, associations and other entities could bring class action suits on behalf of such persons, and one complaint from the public sector had been brought so far and the woman concerned had been granted compensation. Since the adoption of the Equal Opportunity Act, the Government had organized two public information campaigns, distributed brochures on the law and on workplace sexual harassment, and developed two poster campaigns to sensitize employees about their rights under the Act.
The Office of Equal Opportunities had been expanded to handle opportunity issues of disabled persons, homosexuals and people with other sexual orientations, she said. It was larger and better funded than its predecessor and employed two full-time staff members. The Commission of Equal Rights for Men and Women continued to operate, but it focused only on equal rights as a consultative group with national jurisdiction. The Government had set up a steering committee on gender mainstreaming.
Parliament had conducted an evaluation of the mandate and effectiveness of the Office of Equal Opportunities, she said, adding that it was not independent, but formed part of the Government. However, its public relations campaigns, studies and recommendations to public and private organizations were carried out independently. The Office issued a questionnaire of about 30 questions aimed at helping women reconcile work and family life. The responses were then evaluated and used to develop performance goals. The Office had partnered with two other offices on that project so far.
She said the Office received an average of 180 to 200 inquiries on language issues, divorce, separation and sexual harassment in the workplace, 80 per cent of which came from women. It also received many requests for documentation, course offerings and training programmes, and government programmes with non-governmental organizations. Liechtenstein also had an information office for women which had served well for 20 years. The Women’s House offered counselling in domestic violence and shelters for women victims. The Office of Equal Opportunities was just as well known as its predecessor.
Another delegate said lawyers were well trained in the matters at hand although, due to Liechtenstein’s small size, very few were specialists in women’s issues. Under the European Treaty on Human Rights, it took six years to lodge a first complaint, and, in that light, the European Economic Commission played an important role in workplace gender equality.
Mr. WENAWESER added that, although European mechanisms were important in economic equality, United Nations mechanisms were of key importance with regard to violence against women.
MAGALYS AROCHA DOMINGUEZ, expert from Cuba, noted that being a small, developed country could have its advantages in implementing women’s rights, but expressed some misgivings about the temporary special measures described, seeking clarification about some of them, such as the training year.
Ms. SIMONOVIC, expert from Croatia, also inquiring about the nature of special measures, asked what position the Convention had in relation to the Constitution.
Mr. WENAWESER said he saw no contradictions between the provisions of the Constitution and those of the Convention.
Another delegate said temporary special measures such as training could raise the number of women running for public office, and were in compliance with both the Constitution and the Convention. Created without the need for special legislation, it was to be hoped that they would soon become unnecessary. Quotas for candidates were not being considered.
Mr. FLINTERMAN, expert from the Netherlands, said he was pleased to see external development policies described in the report and asked whether the delegation considered article 3 of the Convention to have international scope.
DORCAS COKER-APPIAH, expert from Ghana, said she was glad to know that Liechtenstein had taken steps to target men in its effort to achieve gender equality, but voiced concern that children visited their fathers at work on Father’s Day, which could perpetuate stereotypes if they could not similarly visit their mothers at work. In addition, the girls’ centres described might give girls too much of a different identity from boys. In regard to violence against women, she asked if there were plans to target migrant women confined to the home.
Mr. WENAWESER said it would be difficult to read an international obligation into article 3, although obligations to empower women in the context of development projects were certainly in the spirit of the whole Convention. The primary responsibility for women’s empowerment, however, lay with the national authorities.
With regard to Father’s Day, another delegate said the idea was to bring about the reconsideration of the father’s role in a way that involved them in the idea of equal opportunity. The initiative was now being organized for the fourth time after an evaluation had shown its success. As for violence against migrant women, counselling, outreach, mother-child German courses, efforts to change immigration laws and other measures were in place.
Ms. SIMONOVIC, expert from Croatia, remarking that no non-governmental organizations had accompanied the delegation, noted that some of them had objected to the lack of efforts to enable boys and girls to visit both their mothers and fathers at work in equal measure.
ANAMAH TAN, expert from Singapore, asked what activities were carried out in the girls’ centres and how many girls participated.
Mr. WENAWESER could not say why no non-governmental organizations were present, but he noted that they had good access to policy bodies and were possibly waiting for the Committee to meet in Geneva. While the State could not impose certain things, it was certainly its role to legislate and educate on matters of women’s equality. A few political parties were calling for paid parental leave in addition to maternal leave, but it was not likely to be instituted in the near future.
Another delegate said there had been no requests from non-governmental organizations to participate. Their objections concerning Father’s Day workplace visits would be further discussed, though it was an advantage that both girls and boys could look into various occupational areas on that day. This year, the Government was reviewing parental leave petitions and developing a response. Concerns about girls’ centres would also be reviewed.
In an additional response, a delegate said parental leave discussions centred on companies with 250 or more employees. There were questions about the ability of the country’s many smaller enterprises to cope.
Another delegate, commenting on the existence of prejudices concerning the taking of parental leave, said most men who took advantage of it did so in a “part-time” fashion.
ZOU XIAOQIAO, expert from China, citing measures to increase women’s participation in political life, asked how many had taken the political courses offered, how effective those courses were, and whether they were open to all women or restricted to those selected by political parties. What was the Government’s attitude towards a quota system? Did it intend to adopt a legal quota system? How many women had been promoted to political leadership positions?
MERIEM BELMIHOUB-ZERDANI, expert from Algeria, requested information about citizenship and voting rights for foreigners and asked the delegation to elaborate on women in leadership roles in the political, corporate life and business fields.
Mr. WENAWESER said the country was mindful that there was no linear development of women’s representation in Parliament, noting that it was not a positive development. Regarding quotas, the understanding was that article 4.1 of the Convention did not necessarily oblige States to create such a system. That had been discussed for several years, but there was not enough political support to introduce quotas in a wholesale manner.
He said that, while women held 50 per cent of all diplomatic posts, more men held higher-level posts than women. There were no statistics on training courses, but the delegation noted the experts’ comments that the Government was too passive on that subject. The Government did want to increase women’s participation in political life. Concerning the acquisition of citizenship, a foreigner must, in principle, have resided in the country for 12 years, and six years if one was married to a citizen.
Another delegate said Liechtenstein offered political courses in every region. So far, three courses had been offered to 27 students, of whom nine were actively engaged in politics today. Participation was voluntary, and all women working in municipal and national commissions were invited. Ads in the nation’s two national newspapers also informed women about the courses. Women must have intentions of becoming politically active in the near future in order to quality for courses. For example, they may be on the executive board of a women’s organization or work in another capacity. In terms of a database on politically active women, 70 women were registered.
Foreigners could not vote in municipal and parliamentary elections, another delegate said. While few women held leadership positions in large corporations, they were increasingly setting up and heading their own small and medium-sized businesses.
Ms. TAVARES DA SILVA, expert from Portugal, asked why government posts that were subject to appointment had not yet fulfilled the gender balance requirements.
Ms. BELMIHOUB-ZERDANI, expert from Algeria, asked whether textbooks could be used to change attitudes towards women candidates. How did judges stand for election and how many women judges were there? Were political parties subsidized by the State, and, if so, could that fact be used as leverage in encouraging greater women’s participation?
Mr. WENAWESER said political parties were subsidized according to their numbers in Parliament. Women’s representation had been discussed in the past, but had been rejected because it would introduce complexities and disproportionate subsidies. The same problem would arise in relation to appointments. With regard to judges, between 1998 and 2005 there had been a large increase in women’s representation. In regard to quotas, he said that there was no obligation for them under article 41 as long as other measures were being implemented.
Regarding gender-sensitive textbooks, another delegate said many schoolbooks had been procured from areas of Switzerland that were very aware of such problems. Media kits had been developed for educational institutions and teachers had received training on gender issues.
Ms. ZOU, expert from China, sought more information about schools, including the ratio of males to females –- both teachers and students -- and their choices of subjects according to gender.
Ms. AROCHA DOMINGUEZ, expert from Cuba, asked how many women were self-employed in the business sector and what kind of enterprises they operated. What impact had the ordinance on flexible working hours and part-time hours had on men and women, and how had that affected women’s social security rights and other benefits? What were the wage differentials between men and women?
Ms. SAIGA, expert from Japan, asked if Liechtenstein had conducted any surveys to find out why women held part-time jobs and why they chose to leave their jobs when they had children. Was it because private sector employers were not giving them incentives to stay on? Had Liechtenstein conducted surveys on women’s re-entry into the workforce after having children? Could both men and women take unpaid parental leave?
SHANTI DAIRIAM, expert from Malaysia, asked who was monitoring employers to ensure that part-time women workers did not suffer discrimination, and how the ordinance on flexible working hours was enforced. Had the Gender Equality Act been harmonized with the Employment Act?
Mr. WENAWESER said he did not have the numbers on school completion rates, but nine years of schooling was compulsory for both boys and girls. Specific breakdowns on types of self-employment in which women were engaged were also not immediately available. Women employed in the public sector did not face pay discrimination, though the average salary of a female public worker was less than that of her male counterpart, because women held fewer leadership and high-level public posts than men. Liechtenstein offered 20 weeks of paid maternal leave for women and three weeks of unpaid parental leave for both men and women. In accordance with existing labour regulations, women did not leave their jobs after having children.
Another delegate said the new Vocational Training Act aimed to promote equal opportunities for women and help them re-enter the workforce after a marked absence. The Commission for Equal Opportunity, set up last year, aimed to broaden the range of sectors in which women could work. The University of Liechtenstein offered child-care facilities for students and staff. The public sector was preparing guidelines on sexual harassment and gender inequity. Statistics on salaries were not available, but the Government hoped to include them in its next report. However, a public-sector report on salary levels showed no evidence of salary discrimination based on gender.
Overall, women had lower levels of education than men, the delegate said, while acknowledging also that more must be done to boost the number of women in public administration leadership positions. More women held part-time jobs than men because part-time work enabled them to balance work and family life. Many women left their jobs after their first child was born. Many also wished to re-enter the workforce on a part-time basis initially, and then return to full-time posts after their children were grown. The ordinance on flexible work hours applied to public sector employees only, and companies could be penalized for non-compliance under the Gender Equality Act, but not under the Labour Act.
The delegate said that, according to figures provided by Parliament, in response to a request for data on the number of women holding part-time and full-time jobs, and the number of women who left their jobs after starting families, 581 of 758 employees in the National Administration had part-time posts. Of that number, 157 were women. Only partial answers had been received in response to questions sent to 28 companies. Surveys revealed that most women reduced their working hours by 50 to 80 per cent after having their first child. In 2000, there were 600 single-parent households with a total of 2,481 persons living in them.
Liechtenstein’s declining birth rate was not due to insufficient child care, she said. Rather, many young people were demanding better child-care facilities, including day care in schools and homework assistance programmes for their children.
On the types of enterprises started by self-employed women, another delegation member said they ran legal counselling firms in particular. There were just as many female as male law students in the country, and medicine was also a popular field of study for women. The Government had taken several measures to encourage women to re-enter the workforce after having children. For example, the new Scholarship Law would promote continuing education for women seeking to return to the labour market.
She said a non-governmental organization was introducing a scheme to award certificates to women in acknowledgement of their work in the family, adding that skills developed while taking care of the family could be useful in the labour market.
Another delegate said the Law on Occupational Pensions had been revised to ensure adequate social security benefits for part-time workers.
RUTH HALPERIN-KADDARI, expert from Israel, said the Committee expected wage gap figures because the report said they would be available starting in 2006. Expressing concern over the gender gap in the top management of private companies, she asked if government initiatives could be taken in that area. Did employers have any obligation to inform workers about wage ranges so that women would know if they were receiving unequal pay?
Mr. WENAWESER, while agreeing that equality had not yet been achieved, said the country was on the right path. There were laws to ensure equal pay for equal work, but it was unclear how one would know when one was getting a lower salary than one’s colleagues.
Another delegate added that employees could find out such information from each other. Labour organizations could also provide that information, in addition to legal support for court action in situations of unequal pay. Private enterprises must meet gender equality standards, but they were free to choose their own methods to reach that goal.
Ms. SIMONOVIC, expert from Croatia, noted that the Convention made no mention of progressive implementation and, since there were many indications that that equality had not yet been achieved in certain spheres, proactive measures must be taken. Did Liechtenstein intend to heed the Committee’s recommendation on changing legislation that criminalized abortion?
Ms. DAIRIAM, expert from Malaysia, said the Convention saw women’s health as a broad issue that took into account the different degrees of vulnerability to certain diseases on the basis of both biology and social factors. Given States parties’ obligation to provide services that answered such specific needs, what was being done to meet that obligation?
Ms. TAN, expert from Singapore, asked whether a gender perspective was applied in providing assistance to low-income families.
Mr. WENAWESER, while agreeing that the Convention did not mention progressive implementation, said the desired effects of given measures could not be realized immediately. In any case, Liechtenstein was working to correct shortfalls. Regarding abortion, it had been a long time since anyone had been prosecuted for undergoing the procedure. Experts’ comments about health services would be passed along for further consideration.
According to another delegate, there had been a dramatic decline in the number of working-poor households in recent years. They were provided with economic help in many categories, taking into account single parenthood, child care and many other factors.
Another delegate said women were given regular free preventive check-ups, including gynecological check-ups.
On single-parent families, a delegate said there were 557 of them, 490 of which were headed by women, with an average annual income of 62,750 Swiss francs.
Ms. HALPERIN-KADDARI, expert from Israel, referring to article 16 of the Convention, said it was unfortunate that the report had no information on marriage and divorce. Did Liechtenstein have no-fault divorce or were grounds required for the action. Were there consequences for infidelity, and what were the economic consequences for men and women? What was the status of de facto unions in that regard?
Ms. TAN, expert from Singapore, asked about the consequences of divorce for foreign spouses with residency permits and their children.
Ms. BELMIHOUB-ZERDANI, expert from Algeria, said she saw no discrimination in earlier description of Liechtenstein’s marriage laws, although public funds did not cover contraception. Would the Government give consideration to that problem?
Mr. WENAWESER reiterated that he did not deny the binding nature of the Convention, just the necessity of imposing quotas. Regarding the legal age for marriage, it was now the same for men and women.
Another delegate said there were three options for divorce: a joint application, a separation of over three years, and an application because one party could not continue in the marriage. There was also the option of separation. As far as economic consequences were concerned, education credits were accorded the spouse taking responsibility for the children, while women were accorded a portion of the husband’s pension rights depending on various factors. Property was divided equally and child support was provided. Alimony could be paid to either spouse in certain instances.
With regard to foreign spouses, another delegate said residency permits were reviewed after a divorce, but, as a rule, spouses and children were allowed to remain in the country out of consideration for the impact on the children.
Another delegate said unmarried couples could make various arrangements that were often recognized by employers and other parties.
Ms. TAN, expert from Singapore, asked what happened in the case of a spouse without children, or whose children were too young to have been integrated into the community.
A delegate said that the residency permit of a foreign spouse without children would probably expire, which may also be the case with very young children. However, such situations would be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to the best interests of the children.
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