Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal and carries maximum sentences ranging from 10 years’ to life imprisonment. Anecdotal evidence suggested it was a pervasive problem, with 12 rapes and 32 cases of acts defined as unlawful sexual intercourse reported during the year. The Directorate of Gender Affairs, part of the Ministry of Education, Gender, Sports and Youth Affairs, publicized a crisis hotline for victims and witnesses to sexual assault and managed a sexual assault center that coordinates responses to sexual assault. Police immediately refer reported rapes to the newly created Sexual Offenses Unit, and a female police officer accompanies the victim for both questioning and medical examinations at the sexual assault center. Once the doctor’s report is completed, an investigation commences. An arrested suspect is placed in a line-up and must be identified by the victim, using a one-way mirror. Victims may, however, choose to identify their attacker face to face, without using a mirror, if they feel it necessary. Authorities prosecuted 10 cases of unlawful sexual intercourse during the year. In situations where the victim did not know her assailant, the cases rarely came to trial, although the number of those coming forward increased since the creation of the Sexual Offenses Unit.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, continued to be a serious problem. The law prohibits and provides penalties for domestic violence, but some women were reluctant to testify against their abusers due to fear of stigma, retribution, or further violence. The government noted an increase in women coming forward in the years since enactment of the Domestic Violence Act of 1999. The Directorate of Gender Affairs operated a domestic violence program that provided training for law enforcement officers, health-care professionals, counselors, social workers, immigration officers and army officers. The directorate also worked with a nongovernmental organization (NGO) to provide safe havens for abused women and children. Services for victims of domestic violence included counseling and an advocacy case worker who accompanied the victim to the hospital and police station.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal, but it was rarely prosecuted. According to the Labor Department, there was a high incidence of sexual harassment incurred by employees in both the private and public sectors. However, only four cases were reported formally during the year; the small number was believed to result from concerns about retaliation.
Reproductive Rights: Reproductive rights of women were protected. Couples and individuals had the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had the information to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. There was adequate access to contraception. Most pregnant women had at least one antenatal care visit, and most women gave birth in hospitals. A 2008 UNICEF report indicated that skilled attendance at birth was 100 percent and estimated the contraceptive prevalence rate at 53 percent. Incidence of maternal mortality was not available. Women were equally diagnosed and treated for sexually transmitted infections.
Discrimination: Women in society enjoy the same rights as men under the law. However, economic conditions in rural areas tended to limit women to home and family, although some women worked as domestics, in agriculture, or in the large tourism sector. Despite these limitations, women were well represented in the private and public sectors. There was no legislation requiring equal pay for equal work, but women faced no restrictions involving ownership of property. The Directorate of Gender Affairs is charged with promoting the rights of women.