Mongolia - CEDAW - List of Issues - June 2015

The Advocates for Human Rights and the National Center Against Violence in Mongolia submitted a joint report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for the 63rd Session’s Pre-Sessional Working Group, which took place in July 2015. This submission offers recommendations on domestic violence for the Committee’s List of Issues.

Domestic violence is a widespread problem in Mongolia, and it violates women’s rights under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In 2008, the Committee expressed concern over the prevalence of domestic violence in Mongolia. The country has some mechanisms to combat domestic violence, most notably the Law on Combatting Domestic Violence (LCDV), but many obstacles prevent this legal framework from effectively protecting victims and holding offenders accountable.

The LCDV allows courts to issue restraining orders, for example, but victims find them very difficult to obtain. Further, the legal system rarely implements or enforces restraining orders, and the law does not lay out any consequences for violating a restraining order. All these factors compromise the safety of domestic violence victim who rely on a restraining order to keep them safe from their abusers. Mongolian law also lacks sufficient administrative and criminal provisions related to domestic violence. Prosecutors often charge perpetrators of domestic violence with crimes such as alcoholism and hooliganism, which carry relatively light punishments. As a result, the legal system does not hold offenders accountable.

Because these legal provisions are largely ineffective, many women see divorce as their only escape from domestic violence. Under Mongolian law, however, a pregnant woman or a woman with a child younger than one year old cannot seek divorce. Also, most judges impose a mandatory three-month reconciliation period before they will grant the divorce. During this period, many women face more domestic violence. Moreover, the costs associated with a divorce are prohibitive to many women.

The LCDV calls for the establishment of social services, such as shelters for victims of domestic violence, but these services are scarce and hard to access. This lack of access is exacerbated by the fact that social workers, police officers, and others who could help victims have caseloads that leave them little time to address domestic violence.

The Mongolian Parliament introduced a draft of revisions to the LCDV and the Criminal Code in 2014. These revisions include many improvements that can help promote victim safety and offender accountability. The amendments have some weaknesses, though, such as mandatory reporting of domestic violence, even if reporting compromises victims’ safety. The Parliament should address these flaws and take action to adopt meaningful revisions to the LCDV.