Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. There were legal protections against spousal rape for women holding a court-issued divorce decree, separation order, or nonmolestation order. Authorities charged 145 persons with sex-related offenses during the year, compared with 112 in 2010. Charges were brought in 55 cases of rape, compared with 44 in 2010; 11 cases of sex with a minor, compared with 19 in 2010; and 53 cases of indecent assault, compared with 42 in 2010). Many cases were pending in the courts for months or years. Rape was underreported for fear of further violence, retribution, and societal stigma.
Violence and abuse against women continued to be significant social problems. The law prohibits domestic violence, provides protection to all members of the family, including men and children, and applies equally to marriages and to common-law relationships. Penalties depend on the severity of the charges and range from a fine for first-time offenders (unless the injury is serious) up to the death penalty for a killing. Victims may request restraining orders, which the courts often issued. The courts can sentence an offender to jail for breaching such an order. The police have a victim support unit, consisting of civilian volunteers, which offered assistance primarily to female victims of violent crimes.
There were public and private counseling services for victims of domestic violence, rape, and child abuse. There were programs to sensitize clergy who counsel abuse victims, to encourage hairdressers to identify domestic violence and direct women to seek expert assistance, to offer domestic violence awareness training for high school students, and to prevent elder abuse for workers in geriatric hospitals. The Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPW) operated a crisis center staffed by trained counselors and provided legal and medical referral services. The government provided some funding for a shelter for battered women, operated by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) including the BPW, which accommodated up to 20 women plus their young children. The shelter offered the services of trained psychological counselors to victims of domestic violence.
The Bureau of Gender Affairs cited a lack of specific information and inadequate mechanisms for collecting and evaluating data on incidents of domestic violence as major impediments to tackling gender-based violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not specifically address sexual harassment, which was a problem. There were no statistics available on the prevalence of sexual harassment cases. Media reports often indicated that women were afraid to report sexual harassment because they feared retribution in the workplace.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children, and had the information and means to do so free from discrimination. Skilled attendance at delivery and in postpartum care was widely available, as was access to information on contraception. Women and men were given equal access to diagnostic services and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Discrimination: The Bureau of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Family worked to ensure the rights of women. Women have equal property rights, including in a divorce settlement. Women actively participated in all aspects of national life and were well represented at all levels of the public and private sectors, although some discrimination persisted. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Gender Gap Report, women earned 26 percent less than men for comparable work. A government poverty eradication fund focused on encouraging entrepreneurial activities to increase employment for women and youth.