Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law. According to police, 497 rapes were reported nationwide through the second quarter of the year, a 14.7- percent increase from the same period in 2010 and an 84.8- percent increase from 2001. There were 55 attempted rapes reported to police nationwide through the second quarter of the year, eight more than through the same period in 2010.
The penalty for rape is generally two to 21 years in prison, depending on the severity of the assault, the age of the victim, and the circumstances under which the crime occurred. Very few cases, however, resulted in a sentence higher than three years and four months. A report issued in 2007 by the director of public prosecutions indicated that 84 percent of rape cases reported to police between 2001 and 2005 had been dismissed; authorities believed this was usually due to the victim’s reluctance to press charges, while Amnesty International asserted that systemic inadequacies played a role. The same report noted that approximately 36 percent of rape trials ended in acquittal. Authorities have not presented a similar national analysis since 2007. The Statistics Bureau registered 998 rape reports and 78 convictions in 2009, the latest date for which national figures are available. Because the 78 convictions may include cases reported before 2009, the conviction rate cannot be accurately established through publicly available statistics.
During the year authorities strengthened the eight-person sexual violence unit in the National Criminal Investigation Service (KRIPOS) with10 additional positions and stated that rape victims would be offered up to three hours of free attorney assistance. Oslo police presented a strategic plan to prevent rape.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was a problem. The law provides higher penalties for domestic violence than for simple assault, generally one to three years in prison, with an increased term of up to six years in more severe cases and up to 21 years for aggravated rape. The government generally enforced the law in practice, although the Oslo Crisis Center criticized the conviction rate (approximately 15 percent in 2010) as too low and attributed this to insufficient investigation and a backlog in the courts, rather than a lack of evidence. Through the second quarter of the year, police received 1,314 reports of domestic violence, seven more than during the same period in 2010.
The government had programs to prevent rape and domestic violence and to counsel victims. The action plan required each of the country’s 27 police districts to have a domestic violence coordinator to assist victims. According to nongovernmental organizations, however, only eight police districts had a full-time domestic violence coordinator, and four districts had no domestic violence coordinator. Public and private organizations operated 51 government-funded shelters and managed five 24-hour crisis hotlines. The shelters provided support and counseling for victims and helped them gain access to social services, doctors, lawyers, and housing authorities. Victims of domestic violence have a right to consult a lawyer free of charge before deciding whether to make a formal complaint. If criminal proceedings are instituted, the victim is entitled to free assistance from a victim’s advocate.
Sexual Harassment: The law provides that “employees shall not be subjected to harassment or other unseemly behavior,” and the government effectively enforced this provision. Employers who violate this law are subject to fines or prison sentences of up to two years, depending on the seriousness of the offense.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, and to have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. There was easy access to contraception, skilled attendance during childbirth, and essential prenatal and postpartum care. Women were diagnosed and treated for sexually transmitted infections equally with men.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status as men and enjoy identical rights under family and property laws and in the judicial system. The Ombudsman for Equality and Antidiscrimination (LDO) was generally effective in processing and investigating complaints of gender discrimination. As of September 2010, the latest date for which figures were available, the LDO received 287 information requests and 36 complaints, eight of which resulted in a finding of illegal gender discrimination.
The law provides that women and men engaged in the same activity shall receive equal wages for work of equal value. According to Statistics Norway, women received largely the same pay and benefits as men for equal work but earned on average 15 percent less than what men earned per month. The government attributed this to differences in the professions chosen and the predominance of women in part-time or public sector work. The LDO’s office expressed concern that many women were in part-time positions involuntarily because of a tendency in certain industries to provide no meaningful full-time alternative.
The law mandates that 40 percent of the boards of directors of publicly listed companies be women; virtually all public companies complied with the law.