Rape and Domestic Violence: The law makes rape, including spousal rape, illegal, and the government generally enforced the law when the victim chose to press charges and the cases were not settled out of court through mediation by both parties’ lawyers. During 2010, the latest year for which data is available, 90 cases of rape were reported to the Association for Victim Support (APAV), a nonprofit organization that provides confidential and free services nationwide to victims of any type of crime.
Violence against women, including domestic violence, continued to be a problem. Penalties for violence against women range up to 10 years’ imprisonment. During 2010, 13,866 domestic violence crimes were reported to the APAV, including 237 cases of sexual offense and 87 cases of sexual violence. According to NGOs and media reports, there were 23 deaths related to domestic violence during the year.
The law provides for criminal penalties in cases of violence by a spouse, and the judicial system prosecuted persons accused of abusing women; however, traditional societal attitudes discouraged many abused women from using the judicial system. According to data from the Ministry of Justice, in 2008, the last year for which data was available, 1,157 individuals were convicted of domestic violence crimes, of a total of 2,430 domestic violence court cases.
The government encouraged abused women to file complaints with the appropriate authorities and offered the victim protection against the abuser. In addition, legislation allows third parties to file domestic violence reports. The government’s Commission for Equality and Women’s Rights operated 14 safe houses for victims of domestic violence and maintained an around-the-clock telephone service. Safe house services included food, shelter, and health and legal assistance. The government-sponsored Mission Against Domestic Violence conducted an awareness campaign against domestic violence, trained health professionals, proposed legislation to improve legal assistance to victims, and signed protocols with local authorities to assist victims.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a crime. Penalties for sexual harassment range from one to eight years in prison. If perpetrated by a superior in the workplace, the penalty is up to two years in prison, or more in cases of aggravated coercion.
The Commission on Equality in the Workplace and in Employment, composed of representatives of the government, employers’ organizations, and labor unions, examines, but does not adjudicate, complaints of sexual harassment. During the year reporting of sexual harassment rose. In 2010, 50 cases of sexual harassment were reported to the APAV.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely 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 attendants assisted all childbirths in the country in 2009, the last year for which data is available. Women were diagnosed and treated for sexually transmitted infections on an equal basis with men.
Discrimination: The civil code provides women full legal equality with men; however, in practice women experienced economic and other forms of discrimination. According to 2010 data from the National Statistics Institute, women made up 47 percent of the working population and were increasingly represented in business, science, academia, and the professions. However, according to the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security, women’s average salaries were approximately 27 percent lower than men’s, and the gap was widening.
The state secretary for parliamentary affairs and equality addresses, among other topics, problems such as economic discrimination and integration of women into the mainstream of society.