The first applicant, a woman in her fifth month of pregnancy, was taken into police custody on suspicion of robbery and subsequently detained pending trial. The woman gave birth to her son, the second applicant, while in detention. The woman claimed that she had been shackled to bed during her stay in the maternity hospital, placed in a metal cage during court hearings before and after giving birth, and that the physical conditions of her and her child’s detention and the medical care provided to the child in pre-trial detention had been inadequate. The Court considered that shackling to a gynecological examination chair before and after birth giving on the basis that she could escape or behave violently was unjustified, inhuman and degrading given the woman’s condition, and that holding a person in a metal cage during a trial constituted an affront to human dignity. The Court also held that keeping the woman’s son in detention without any monitoring by a pediatrician for almost three months following his birth and without adequate healthcare constituted a violation of his rights.
The applicant requested Ukrainian authorities to change her patronymic to the one derived from her stepfather’s name and was refused because local legislation allowed a citizen to change the patronymic only in the event of a change of his/her father’s name. At the same time, the applicant successfully changed her surname to the surname of her stepfather. The Court held that given that the Ukrainian legislation recognizes the right of the individual to change his/her name and the procedure of changing names is flexible, the denial on changing the patronymic was not sufficiently justified. Furthermore, the court held that the authorities had not secured the applicant’s right to respect for her private life as no reasons had been given by the Ukrainian authorities for denying the applicant her right to decide an important aspect of her private and family life and no such justification had otherwise been established.
The Local Election Act of Ukraine establishes quotas for female representation in the legislative bodies at local level elections, requiring that representation of persons of one sex in the electoral lists of candidates for members of local councils in multi-mandate constituencies should be at least 30% of the total number of candidates in the electoral roll.
The Political Parties Act of Ukraine establishes quotas for female representation in the Ukrainian parliament, requiring that the size of the quota (i.e. the minimum level of representation of women and men in the electoral list of candidates from one political party) must be not less than 30% of the total number of candidates in the electoral list.
The Anti-Discrimination Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) addresses discrimination in all areas of life, including public and political activities. Under the Act, “discrimination” is defined to include situations where a person or group of persons suffer limitations in the recognition, implementation or use of rights and freedoms in any form due to reasons such as race, age, gender, etc. The Act provides that all forms of discrimination are prohibited in Ukraine and all persons should have equal rights and freedoms as well as opportunities for their implementation and establishes civil, administrative and criminal liability for the violation of anti-discrimination legislation (including under the Act). The Act does not however provide for any specific penalties.
The Criminal and Criminal Procedural Codes of Ukraine were amended in December 2017 to adopt provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) adopted in 2011. As a result of these amendments, forced marriage (i.e. forcing a person to marry or to continue being in a forced marriage, or to enter into a cohabitation without official registration of marriage, or to continue such cohabitation) is punishable by restraint of liberty for up to three years or imprisonment for the same period and domestic violence (i.e. deliberate systematic violence against a spouse or ex-spouse or other person with whom the perpetrator is in family or intimate relationship, leading to physical or psychological suffering, disorder of health, disability, emotional dependence) is punishable with public works for up to 240 hours or detention for up to six months, or restraint of liberty for up to 5 years or imprisonment for up to two years. In addition, the amendments:introduce new corpus delicti, such as “illegal abortion or sterilization” (i.e. performed by a person without medical education or without consent of the victim) which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years;establish punishment for rape of a spouse or ex-spouse or other person with whom the perpetrator is in a family or intimate relationship (imprisonment for up to 10 years); andincrease punishment for sexual violence to up to 15 years, if such acts resulted in serious consequences.
The Domestic Violence Protection Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) introduces the concept of “domestic violence” which is defined to include action or inaction of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence committed within a family or between relatives, or between former or current spouses or other persons who live (or lived) together as a family, irrespective of whether the person who committed domestic violence lives (or lived) together with the victim, as well as a threat of similar actions. The Act contains a series of governmental steps aimed at combatting domestic violence and improving the status of victims of domestic violence, which includes, without limitation, that the Ukrainian government maintain a unified state register of cases of domestic violence and sex-based violence and to establish a relevant call center, the adoption of immediate injunctions with respect to domestic violence offenders, provision of free of charge legal assistance to all victims in all cases of domestic violence, free medical, social and psychological help, and reimbursement of inflicted harm and damage to the victim’s physical and psychological health. The Act, through amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences Act, makes domestic violence or sex-based violence punishable by a fine in the amount of 20 non-taxable minimal wages or public works for the period from 30 to 40 hours or administrative detention for the period of up to seven days. If such actions are repeated within a year, the punishment is increased up to 40 non-taxable minimal wages, public works for the period of up to 60 hours or administrative detention for up to 15 days.
The Equal Opportunities Act of Ukraine (the “Act”) provides for the legal framework of men and women’s parity in all spheres of social life through providing legal support for equal rights and opportunities, removal of gender-based discrimination and prevention of misbalance between women’s and men’s opportunities in implementing the rights granted to each of them by the Constitution and other laws. Pursuant to the Act, “equal rights” means absence of gender-based restrictions or privileges. The Act provides that equal rights for men and women will be ensured in the election process, civil service, employment and career, social security, entrepreneurial activity and education, in each case, through the relevant government/regulatory bodies. The Act prohibits gender-based violence (which is defined as “actions directed at persons through their sex, stereotyped widespread customs or traditions or actions that relate predominantly to persons of a determined sex and create physical, sexual, psychological or financial damage or suffering”) and sexual harassment (defined as "sexual actions of a verbal or physical nature, which may humiliate or insult the person who is dependent on the perpetrator due to work, official, financial or other reasons"). Violation of the Act can result in a limitation order being issued to temporarily restrict the rights of the offender and protect the rights of the victim, including prohibiting the victim on residing with the victim at their place of residence, approaching the victim up to a certain distance and limitations on telephone calls or other communication with the victim.
Article 24 of Ukraine’s Constitution provides that there can be no privileges or restrictions based on sex or other grounds, and guarantees that the equality of rights for women and men is ensured by providing equal opportunities to each in socio-political and cultural activities, access to education, work and remuneration, special measures on labor protection and health of women, pension privileges and creating conditions enabling women to combine work and maternity.