UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Concluding Observations on the Republic of the Congo
Date: 23rd May 2000

In this concluding observation the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee) identifies several principal subjects of concern, a number of which related to the principle of non-discrimination. In particular it singles out discrimination against women as causing serious concern, emphasising that marriage and family laws overtly discriminate against women. For instance, adultery is illegal for women but, in certain circumstances, not for men. Further, while the Legal Code provides that 30 per cent of the deceased husband’s estate goes to the wife, in practice the wife often loses all rights of inheritance. Similarly, domestic violence including rape and beatings are widespread but rarely reported, and there are no legal provisions for punishing the offenders.

The Committee observes that despite the provision in Congolese legislation that endorses the principle of equal pay for equal work, women in the formal sector are under-represented and encounter discriminatory promotion patterns. The Committee also notes that women in rural areas are especially disadvantaged in terms of education and employment conditions, including wages. The Committee discerns a similar pattern of discrimination with regard to ethnic minorities, in particular Pygmies who were severely marginalised in the areas of employment, health and education, and usually considered socially inferior.

In its recommendations, the Committee urges the Congo to address the inequalities affecting women in society with a view to eliminating them by, amongst other things, adopting and enforcing appropriate legislative and administrative measures, and to adopt measures in order to fully integrate Pygmies into Congolese society, so that they may fully enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights.

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