Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal and punishable by two to 12 years’ imprisonment. Rape occurred, with prosecution most likely in cases where there was evidence of violent assault as well as rape or the victim was a minor. However, no statistics on prosecutions were available. A government family planning clinic and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sought to combat rape by raising awareness of the problem.
Widespread reports of domestic violence continued.
Although women have the right to legal recourse, including against spouses, many were reluctant to bring legal action because of the cost and a general lack of faith in the legal system to address their concerns effectively. Women often were ignorant of their legal rights. Tradition inhibited women from taking domestic disputes outside the family. The law specifically addresses domestic violence cases. If the victim misses fewer than 10 days of work, the penalty for assault is six months in prison. If the victim misses 10 to 20 workdays, the penalty is one year, and so forth. The law was strictly enforced, but there was no data on the number of prosecutions or convictions for domestic violence.
The Office of Women’s Affairs and UNICEF maintained a counseling center with a hotline. The hotline did not receive many calls, but the counseling center received numerous walk-ins.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not prohibit sexual harassment, and it was a problem. No data were available on its extent.
Reproductive Rights: The government recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children. Health clinics and local NGOs were permitted to operate freely in disseminating information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. There were no restrictions on the right to access contraceptives, but they were not widely used. NGOs and the Ministry of Health had insufficient supplies of contraceptives, leading to a decrease in availability and use. The government provided free childbirth services, but the lack of doctors obliged many women, especially in rural areas, to rely on nurses or midwives during childbirth, unless the mother or child suffered more serious health complications. Pre- and post-natal care outside the family was provided only in the government clinic. Men and women received equal access to diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, but women were more likely than men to seek treatment and refer their partners. No information was available on incidence of maternal mortality.
Discrimination: The constitution stipulates that women and men have equal political, economic, and social rights. Women did not experience economic discrimination. While many women had access to opportunities in education, business, and government, women in general continued to encounter significant societal discrimination. Traditional beliefs left women with most child-rearing responsibilities and with less access to education or opportunity to enter a profession. A high teenage pregnancy rate further reduced economic opportunities for women. The Gender Equality Institute within the Office of Women’s Affairs held numerous seminars and workshops to raise awareness of discrimination against women.