Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, but was not effectively enforced; the law was largely unknown in rural areas where the majority of rapes took place. Penalties range from two to eight years’ imprisonment if the victim is 12 years of age or older and eight to 12 years’ imprisonment if the victim is under the age of 12. According to NGO reports, many families preferred to settle such matters through community courts or privately through financial remuneration rather than through the formal judicial system. While spousal rape was rarely reported, it was regarded as a common problem. There were few reports of successfully prosecuted rape cases during the year since few cases were filed, and among those filed, poor police work and lack of sufficient evidence led to even fewer successful prosecutions. Judges commonly exercised strict confidentiality regarding rape cases, accounting for limited media reporting on this issue.
The law prohibits violence against women and nonconsensual sex, including between married individuals. The law also provides penalties of up to 12 years’ imprisonment for engaging in sexual activity while knowingly infected with a sexually contagious disease. There were no reports of investigation or prosecution of such cases during the year.
Domestic violence against women, particularly spousal rape and beatings, remained widespread. Abuse of a spouse or unmarried partner is punishable with one to two years in prison, or a greater penalty if another crime is applicable in addition to domestic violence. A 2008 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) by UNICEF, the Ministry of Health, and the National Statistics Institute revealed 37 percent of women with either no education or only a primary school education thought it was justifiable to beat a woman under certain circumstances. A quarter of those with a secondary education or higher sometimes viewed beatings as justifiable. A 2007 UN Development Fund for Women report, Violence against Women in Mozambique, found only approximately 10 percent of all cases of violence were reported to the police. The main reason was that violence against women was considered a domestic matter to be dealt with privately. The Ministry of Interior’s centers for women and children who are victims of violence, abuse, and exploitation registered 10,000 cases of violence in the first six months of the year compared with approximately 12,000 cases in all of 2011.
Although domestic violence is considered a valid reason to leave a partner, women often have few economic or social alternatives and so remain with the abuser. A woman who leaves an abusive partner risks losing her position in the household and also the larger community. An estimated 95 percent of women were dependent on the community or family-based, typically agricultural, economy.
Many young women also engaged in transactional sex with older, wealthier men in order to survive economically.
With the exception of some ethnic and religious groups, the groom’s family provided a bride price to the bride’s family, usually in the form of money, livestock, or other goods, although this practice had become somewhat less common in recent years. Among Muslims, the bride’s family usually paid for the wedding and provided gifts. Some believed these payments contributed to violence against women and other inequalities, due to the perception the women were thus owned by their husbands.
A 2008-12 national plan to combat violence against women was being implemented in five provinces -- Niassa, Tete, Sofala, Inhambane, and Gaza -- and in Maputo City but was generally unknown in the rest of the country. During the year the Ministry of Women and Social Action carried out a national campaign on radio and television to combat domestic violence, as well as to educate women about the law and their rights. The messages were broadcast regularly, including at prime times, and included the participation of former president Chissano and many religious leaders.
The government and NGOs often worked together to combat domestic violence. The PRM operated special women’s and children’s units within police squadrons that received high numbers of cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and violence against children; the units provided assistance to victims and their families. All 30 police squadrons in Maputo had women’s and children’s centers. Nationwide “green lines” (toll-free telephone lines) in police squadron offices were set up to receive complaints of violence against women and children, but NGOs reported the program did not receive the support and resources needed to be effective.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal; however, it was pervasive in business, government, and schools. The sexual harassment law is based on the 1920s Portuguese penal code; sexual harassment incidents are usually regarded as acts of “indecency” with a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.
Reproductive Rights: The government generally recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children. Health clinics and local NGOs could operate freely in disseminating information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. There were no restrictions on access to family planning; however, according to UN estimates, just 12 percent of married women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 used a modern method of contraception.
The country continued to have a very high maternal mortality rate (490 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010), and a woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death was one in 43. This was mainly due to poor clinical capacity for obstetrical emergencies, such as hemorrhage and obstructed labor, and to a severe lack of doctors--fewer than 900 for the whole country--and nurses, especially in rural areas. Other reasons included poor infrastructure, a high HIV/AIDS rate, and poor accessibility to health facilities often resulting in delays in providing medical care.
However, the country made progress on the 2015 Millennium Development Goal 5 target for maternal mortality, reducing the rate from 910 to 490 deaths per 100,000 between 1990 and 2010. According to the Ministry of Health and the 2011 MICS, skilled health personnel attended approximately 55 percent of births in the previous two years, and nearly 90 percent of pregnant women and girls received at least some prenatal care.
Discrimination: The 2005 Family Law eliminated husbands’ legal status as heads of family and legalized civil, religious, and common-law unions. The law does not recognize new cases of polygamy; it grants women already in polygamous marriages full marital and inheritance rights. The law more precisely defines women’s legal rights with regard to property, child custody, and other issues. However, many women remained uninformed about the law.
Women continued to experience economic discrimination and were three times less likely than men to be represented in the public and formal private employment sectors. They often received lower pay than men for the same work and were less likely to have access to credit. Customary law was practiced in many areas. In some regions, particularly the northern provinces, women had limited access to the formal judicial system for enforcement of rights provided under the civil code and instead relied on customary law to settle disputes. Under customary law women typically have no rights to inherit an interest in land.
Women held less than 5 percent of government, public enterprise, and private-sector salaried jobs, and they had correspondingly lower social security benefits and less access to higher-paying occupations than did men. The remainder worked as casual laborers or in the informal sector, primarily in subsistence agriculture. Enforcement of laws that protect women’s right to land ownership was poor.
The practice of “purification,” whereby a widow is obligated to have unprotected sex with a member of her deceased husband’s family, continued, particularly in rural areas. A Save the Children report on inheritance practices noted 60 percent of women cited discrimination in the inheritance process and highlighted cases in which women lost inheritance rights for not being “purified” following the death of their husbands.