MENZ Issues

New Zealand human rights submission to the UN ignores men’s rights.

On the MensRights subreddit, user “iainmf” has reported about a submission he made to the NZ government for the UN’s Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Committee.

His submission:

Response to the draft Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

With regards to the request to provide an assessment of the remaining obstacles to the achievement of gender equality.

Paragraph 146 contains only issues of inequalities that women face. For completeness, the report should also contain relevant details of the inequalities men face.

General comment 16 [i] makes it clear that New Zealand is obligated to “review existing legislation, policies, strategies and programmes in relation to economic, social and cultural rights” and have “appropriate indicators and benchmarks on the right to equal enjoyment by men and women of economic, social and cultural rights in order to effectively monitor the implementation”.

To achieve substantive equality between women and men, men’s disadvantages must be considered and addressed. The following are areas where men are disadvantaged, in regards to the ICESCR preventing formally or substantively equality between women and men.

Article 12: The Right to Health

Suicide rate

For the 2015/2016 year there where 409 males suicides and 170 female suicides giving a ratio of 2.41:1 [ii] Traditionally the ratio is approximately 3:1

Workplace health and safety

Men bear the burden of most of the workplace injury and fatalities.

ACC and Statistics New Zealand report that men make up approximately three-quarters of injury claims. Incidents rates for injury claims have fallen slightly between 2002 and 2014. In 2014 men made up 94% of workplace fatalities.[iii]

Circumcision

In New Zealand female genital mutilation was prohibited by law in 1996. No such protection exists for male children despite it being a ‘harmful traditional practice’ that violates a child’s right to be ‘free from interference’ and ‘non-consensual medical treatment’.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemns unnecessary surgery on the genitals of intersex children, and most of the criticisms apply to all children, including boys.

These … irreversible procedures … [Are] regularly performed without the full, free and informed consent of the person concerned, who is frequently too young to be part of the decision-making, these procedures may violate their rights to physical integrity, to be free from torture and ill-treatment, and to live free from harmful practices. Given their irreversible nature and impact on physical integrity and autonomy, such medically unnecessary, unsolicited surgery or treatment should be prohibited. [iv]

Article 13: The Right to Education

New Zealand’s 2015 review of the Education for All found that while participation is roughly equal for girls and boys, “some disparities are evident mainly related to lower average achievement of boys in literacy (especially writing)”.

In addition:

“National Standards and Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori Achievement results show that girls perform better than boys assessed through those initiatives at primary level. This is supported by international findings (PIRLS for Year 5 students and PISA for 15-year-old students in reading), suggesting that: there is a literacy gender gap, with boys performing less well in reading and, in particular, in writing large disparities exist among boys in literacy and these tend to be wider spread than those for girls boys are overrepresented in the lower end of the literacy results distribution.” [vi]

Article 10: Right to family life

Domestic Violence

General comment 16 requires states to ‘provide victims of domestic violence, … with access to safe housing, remedies and redress for physical, mental and emotional damage’ and ‘States parties must take appropriate measures to eliminate violence against men and women and act with due diligence to prevent, investigate, mediate, punish and redress acts of violence against them by private actors.

Canterbury Men’s Centre released a report about male victims of domestic violence that highlighted that there are some specific issues for men.

There is some confusion and/or disagreement about how large the problem of male victimisation is.

There is general agreement about what should be done about the issues to improve them but a recognition that resourcing is not currently allocated to specifically male victim issues or to inclusion of male victims in other ways (media campaigns).

Men are generally denied specialised support services but some services are offered in some cases to them. They rarely receive care when they come to the attention of the police despite coming to their attention in significant numbers.

One respondent says:

Male victims and relevant services is at its core a human rights issue. We are discriminating as a society deciding that men are not offered relevant services wholly because of their gender. While this is a clear human rights issue there is no response that this author is aware of by the New Zealand Human Rights Commission despite numerous groups bringing this to their attention. [vii]

One more thing

A positive note on equality for boys. Since the 1st of January 2017 both boys and girls are eligible for free Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations. Girls have had them since 2008.

i) Substantive Issues Arising in the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social And Cultural Rights: General comment No. 16 (2005) – United Nations Economic and Social Council

ii) http://coronialservices.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/2016-provisional-suicide-figures.pdf

iii) http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/health/injuries/InjuryStatistics_HOTP15/Tables.aspx

iv) “Free & Equal Campaign Fact Sheet: Intersex” https://unfe.org/system/unfe-65-Intersex_Factsheet_ENGLISH.pdf

v) Education for All 2015 National Review Report: New Zealand – http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002321/232185e.pdf

vi) ibid

vii) Mind the Gap: What those in the field say about male victims of family violence – September 22, 2016 Donald Pettitt, Canterbury Men’s Centre -http://canmen.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Mind-the-Gap-Report.pdf