Overall, the findings contain positive aspects of how the respective States are implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, highlight matters of concern and make recommendations. The Concluding observations on the eighth periodic report of Bulgaria welcomes the progress achieved in undertaking legislative reforms as well as the efforts to improve its institutional and policy framework aimed at accelerating the elimination of discrimination against women and promoting gender equality. At the same time, the report outlines a number of principal areas of concern and recommendations, some of which are highlighted below:
Civil society organizations – The Committee notes the strong role of the civil society in implementing policies and programmes in the State party. It is, however, concerned at restrictions on the activities of some non-governmental organizations, and the suspension or closure of several such organizations working in the fields of women’s rights and gender equality.
Stereotypes and harmful practices – The Committee remains concerned by the State party’s limited commitment to combating persistent gender stereotypes affecting the educational and career choices of women and girls. The Committee is particularly concerned at:
(a) Increased instances of anti-gender discourse in the public domain, and the public backlash in the perception of gender equality, and misogynistic statements in the media, including by high-ranking politicians;
(b) The promotion of a concept of traditional family values, confining women solely to the role of mothers and domestic responsibilities, and the lack of a comprehensive strategy for the elimination of discriminatory stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society;
(c) The persistence of child and/or forced marriages, despite legislation prohibiting marriage under the age of 16, in particular affecting Roma girls;
(d) The increasing level of hate speech and sexism in the media, in particular on-line social media.
Gender-based violence against women – The Committee notes at the Constitutional Court decision No.13/2018 of 27 July 2018 on the incompatibility of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention), with the State party’s Constitution, and is concerned because it impedes its ratification. The Committee also remains concerned at (a) The fact that the current legislation does not define and criminalize all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls, including physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence, as well as the absence of ex officio prosecution for acts of gender-based violence against women.