Hong Kong is a party to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and has implemented relevant frameworks to safeguard the rights and interests of women, including Basic Law and anti-discrimination laws. However, there have been debates that the current framework fails to provide adequate protection nevertheless.
Apart from CEDAW, Hong Kong is also a party to a number of other international conventions, including International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as well as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). All of these conventions seek to promote equality to all individuals regardless of sex.
Locally, the Sex Discrimination Ordinance was enacted in 1995 and the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance was enacted in 1997. The former Ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status and pregnancy. It also protects people against sexual harassment. The latter prohibits direct and indirect forms of discrimination against persons with family status.
Despite the implementation of such measures, the Concluding Observations by the CEDAW committee indicated that the Women’s Commission in Hong Kong has a weak mandate and does not have the resources necessary to undertake gender mainstreaming and other activities. It has also been indicated that women and girls with disabilities have limited access to education and women domestic workers continue to be subjected to different types of abuses.
CEDAW in Hong Kong Project
The CEDAW in Hong Kong project is an online resource of information on the application of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to Hong Kong.
From 1-2 February 1999, the United Nations CEDAW Committee heard the first Government report on behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since the resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997.
We feature government reports to the Committee, shadow reports by Hong Kong NGOs and Committee conclusions as well as background information on CEDAW in Hong Kong and advice for NGOs lobbying the CEDAW Committee
2012: Release of the Third Report on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region under the CEDAW Convention, which was submitted to the UN as part of the combined seventh and eighth reports of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the Convention.
This project started in 2000, with the publication of Emerton’s research paper on Trafficking of Women into Hong Kong for the purposes of Prostitution: Preliminary Research Findings.
The paper was the first academic study on the topic of trafficking into Hong Kong, and has generated much public debate on the issue, both locally and regionally.
The HKSAR Government has previously amended the Domestic Violence Ordinance in an attempt to remedy some of the problems faced by the victim community. The continued appraisal of the law’s response to domestic violence is critical in order to make calculated further improvements and to move forward in the right direction.
This project considers legal responses to domestic violence in Singapore and the United Kingdom and compares these approaches with the recent developments in Hong Kong. It will examine current legislation and case law in these jurisdictions in order to determine where Hong Kong stands on the spectrum of reform in domestic violence laws. The objectives of the study are to examine the civil and criminal remedies currently available in the three jurisdictions, evaluate the responsiveness and effectiveness of these remedies and to assess indicators of success.
Occasional Paper by Centre for Comparative and Public Law, Faculty of Law, the University of Hong Kong
Minority Women: A Struggle for Equal Protection Against Domestic Violence, by Puja Kapai, 2011
“Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”, No 4/02: Carole Petersen, June 2002
“Trafficking on Women into Hong Kong for the purpose of Prostitution”, No 3/01: Robyn Emerton, February 2001
“Implementing the CEDAW Convention in Hong Kong: Gender Policy Analysis”, No 2/99: Moana Erickson, June 1999
“The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Violence against Women: Implications for Hong Kong ”, No 1/99: Andrew Byrnes, May 1999
Conferences and Seminars
Do we need a new United Nations treaty on violence against women? (Video), 15 January 2016
Women in Prison: An International Symposium on the Bangkok Rules, 24-27 February 2014
Using CEDAW to Advocate Women’s Rights, 26 & 27 October 2011
Hong Kong Women’s NGO Forum: Working with CEDAW, 7 May 2011
Migrant Nightclub/ Escort Workers in Hong Kong: An Analysis of Possible Human Rights Abuses by Robyn Emerton & Carole Petersen, April 2003
Trafficking of Women into Hong Kong for the Purpose of Prostitution: Preliminary Research Findings by Robyn Emerton, February 2001
Rights Talk Series