Zhen Zhen Zheng (ZZZ), a Chinese national, was trafficked to the Netherlands for the purposes prostitution. In April 2003, after escaping and after being put out on the street by a woman who took her in and forced her to do heavy housework, ZZZ applied for asylum in the Netherlands. ZZZ was pregnant at the time of her asylum application.
In May 2003, Dutch authorities dismissed ZZZ’s asylum claim because ‘she could not give details about her trip from China to the Netherlands, did not have identity documents and waited for eight months before applying for asylum.’ Subsequent appeals proved unsuccessful.
In January 2007, ZZZ submitted a communication to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) in which she claimed that the Netherlands had violated her rights in article 6 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The author was a resident of the Netherlands, and worked as a part-time salaried employee as well as a co-working spouse in her husband’s enterprise. She took maternity leave in 1999 and in 2002. She was insured under the Sickness Benefits Act (Ziektewet – “ZW”) for her salaried employment and received benefits to compensate for her loss of income. She was also insured under the Invalidity Insurance (Self- Employed Persons) Act (“WAZ”) for her work in her husband’s enterprise but was denied benefits under this scheme by the “LISV”, the benefits agency, as s. 59(4) (the “anti-accumulation clause”) of the WAZ allowed payment of benefits only insofar as they exceeded benefits payable under the ZW.
She therefore received only partial compensation for loss of income during her maternity leave. The author lodged an objection to the decision, which was rejected. Her appeals were rejected by the District Court and the Central Appeals Tribunal which found that s. 59(4) of the WAZ did not result in unfavourable treatment of women as compared to men.