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April 27, 1998

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a report last Friday calling on the countries of the hemisphere to immediately take the necessary legislative steps to put an end to discrimination against women.

"While there is no doubt that progress has been made in the countries, women still have not attained full equality under the law in all the countries of the region and de jure discrimination remains a flagrant violation of international commitments to which all the states have freely subscribed" stated Claudio Grossman, special rapporteur on women's affairs for the IACHR, an agency of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The initiative is intended to spur awareness on existing inter-American mechanisms to promote and protect the rights of women and at the same time to expand working relations between and among government and non-government agencies. "This is the first time that the Commission is doing such a broad a study on the status of women's rights in the hemisphere," Dr. Grossman added.

According to the study, several countries still have laws that discriminate against women and/or restrict married women's civil rights, and women were still suffering violence either because the laws were not adequate or were not enforced.

The Commission is recommending that by the year 2000 steps be taken to eliminate inequality and give women full access in all spheres. It also calls on countries that had not yet done so to ratify regional human rights instruments, especially the Convention to Prevent, Punish and Eradicate Violence against Women.

OAS member states must evaluate what recourse their respective domestic laws provided, so as to develop and strengthen capabilities to provide effective recourse to women who have suffered gender-based discrimination, the special rapporteur insisted.

And, another recommendation contained in the report was that next year the IACHR centralize its work on women's rights, in particular as regards the issue of violence against women and the inter-American human rights system.

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