Lawmakers and 67 local advocacy groups have cast doubt on Hong Kong's progress in meeting its international obligations to improve women's rights.
The comments came in a report to the United Nations ahead of a review of the city's progress on meeting the provisions of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The report was coordinated by the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor.
"Hong Kong's progress has been very inadequate, particularly in women's political participation," Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said yesterday ahead of the March 3 to 7 review meeting in Geneva.
In its last review in 2006, the committee overseeing the convention urged Hong Kong to combat domestic and sexual violence, encourage female participation in politics and improve the rights of indigenous women and female asylum seekers.
It also called for the repeal of the "two-week rule" under which domestic helpers must leave the city after quitting, and expressed concern about long hours and underpayment of helpers.
Kendy Yim Kit-sum, executive director of women's group Action for Reach Out, said the recent abuse allegations against employers of Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih highlighted the government's "poor performance in protecting vulnerable women".
The report also says the Equal Opportunities Commission's policy of intervening in cases only in response to complaints means the watchdog "adopts too passive an approach".
The commission said in response that it put a lot of effort into education and research, as well as dealing with complaints.