Korea's Gender Equality Status Improves

      March 08, 2010 13:30

      The legal status of Korean women has improved, according to "Words and Deeds: Holding Governments Accountable in the Beijing 15 Review Process," a report by international women's rights group Equality Now to mark International Women's Day on March 8.

      Korea was among 31 countries that "fully or partially repealed or amended the discriminatory laws indicated," along with France, Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan and Turkey.     

      The report was released on the sidelines of a two-week conference by the Commission on the Status of Women to review progress in 189 countries in the Platform for Action adopted in Beijing in 1995.

      The platform includes a pledge to "revoke any remaining laws that discriminate on the basis of sex." At a UN conference in 2000 to review progress, governments agreed to do this "as soon as possible, preferably by 2005."

      The latest report found that Japan, Israel, Yemen, Algeria, Singapore and Iraq are among 36 countries with no intention to revoke discriminatory laws. According to Japan's Civil Code, the minimum age of men and women who can enter into marriage are set differently -- 18 for men and 16 for women, and "a woman may not remarry unless six months have passed since the day of dissolution or rescission of her previous marriage." As for Singapore, if a wife is 13 year or older, a husband will not be punished for forced sexual intercourse. In Iraq, a married woman needs consent from her husband to apply for a passport, and in Israel, a woman cannot divorce without consent from husband.

      Equality Now has consistently evaluated the legal status of women in 189 countries since the representatives from the countries adopted the Beijing Platform for Action. The evaluation takes place based on marital, economic and personal status and violence. Along with the low legal status of women, a strong preference for boys in some countries is noted as a source of serious concern.

      The Economist recently reported that 100 million of female fetuses are victims of "gendercide" in China, India and the Caucasus. As for Korea, it reported that the trend has improved through more education for women and laws that ban gender discrimination.   

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