Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal and punishable by two to 12 years’ imprisonment. The prosecution of rape occurred most often in cases where there was evidence of violent assault or the victim was a minor. However, no statistics on prosecutions were available. A government family planning clinic and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sought to combat rape by raising awareness of the problem.
Widespread reports of domestic violence continued. Although women have the right to legal recourse in cases of domestic violence, including against spouses, many were reluctant to bring legal action because of the cost and a general lack of faith in the legal system to address their concerns effectively. Women often were ignorant of their legal rights. Some observers claimed that women were inhibited from taking domestic disputes outside the family because of tradition and custom. The law prescribes penalties for domestic violence. If the victim misses fewer than 10 days of work, the penalty for assault is six months in prison. If the victim misses 10 to 20 workdays, the penalty is one year, and so forth. The law was strictly enforced, but there was no data on the number of prosecutions or convictions for domestic violence.
The Office of Women’s Affairs and UNICEF maintained a counseling center with a hotline. The hotline did not receive many calls, but the counseling center received numerous walk-ins.
Sexual Harassment: The new penal code, effective since August, prohibits sexual harassment, which reportedly remained a problem. No data were available on its extent.
Reproductive Rights: The government recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children. Health clinics and local NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. There were no restrictions on the right to access contraceptives, but they were not widely used. NGOs and the Ministry of Health had insufficient supplies of contraceptives, leading to a decrease in availability and use. According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), 33 percent of women ages 15-49 used a modern method of contraception. The UNFPA estimated the maternal mortality ratio to be 70 per 100,000 live births in 2010. The government provided free childbirth services, but the lack of doctors obliged many women, especially in rural areas, to rely on nurses or midwives during childbirth, unless the mother or child suffered more serious health complications. Pre- and post-natal care outside the family was provided only in the government clinic. The UNFPA estimated that skilled health personnel attended 81 percent of births.
Discrimination: The constitution stipulates that women and men have equal political, economic, and social rights. However, women experienced some economic discrimination. The federal government was the largest employer, and there were reports that women were often forced to retire at age 57 despite a 1997 law that women can request permission to retire at age 57 and men at age 62. However, women were often terminated from government employment upon their 57th birthday without warning. Reportedly, women did not protest even though they were aware that the practice was illegal. While many women had access to opportunities in education, business, and government, women in general continued to encounter significant societal discrimination. Traditional beliefs left women with most child-rearing responsibilities and with less access to education or opportunity to enter a profession. A high teenage pregnancy rate further reduced economic opportunities for women. The Gender Equality Institute within the Office of Women’s Affairs held numerous seminars and workshops to raise awareness of discrimination against women.