Women in East Timor

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Women in East Timor
Timorese Dancers.jpg
A pair of East Timorese women performing a traditional dance.
Gender Inequality Index
Value NR
Rank NR
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 300
Women in parliament 38.5% (2012)
Women in labour force 38.4% (2011)
Global Gender Gap Index
Value NR
Rank NR out of 144

Among the traditional practices challenging the status of women in East Timor or women in Timor-Leste include not being able to inherit or own property[1] and the cultural notion that women normally belongs to the home.[2]

Apart from these customary concepts, East Timorese women also confront domestic violence. Rape cases and sexual slavery were allegedly committed by East Timorese pro-integration militias during the September 1999 crisis in East Timor.[1] One of the organizations that promote empowerment and foster gender equality for the women of East Timor is the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).[2] In 2010, a law was passed making domestic violence a public crime, but the practice remained prevalent nevertheless. In a 2009–10 Demographic and Health Survey, 36% of married women reported having experienced physical, psychological or sexual violence from their husband or partner, but only 24% reported discussing this with anyone and only 4% reported seeking help from the police.[3] According to the same survey, 71% of men believe that the wife's neglecting children justifies the husband's beating her, while 72% of women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she goes out without informing him.[4] According to activists in non-governmental organizations such as Asisténsia Legál ba Feto no Labarik, domestic violence is severaly under-reported and the punishments are not deterrent: in one case, a man who "stabbed his wife in the back of the head and struck her repeatedly with a block of wood, after an argument about feeding their children" only received a suspended jail sentence of seven months.[5]

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