Rape and Domestic Violence: Sexual assault, including rape, is a crime. There is no specific law against spousal rape. Sexual assault involving a dangerous weapon or serious physical or psychological harm to the victim is punishable by up to nine years’ imprisonment in Chuuk and 10 years’ imprisonment in the other three states, and a fine of up to $20,000 (the U.S. dollar is the national currency) in Kosrae and $10,000 in the other states. If neither a dangerous weapon nor serious physical harm is involved, the assault is punishable in all states by up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine. Due to social stigma, such crimes were underreported, and few cases were prosecuted. The police academy curriculum included programs to train police officers to recognize the problem. According to police and women’s groups, there were a number of reports of physical and sexual assaults against women, both citizens and foreigners, outside the family context.
Reports of spousal abuse, often severe, continued during the year. Although assault is a crime, there are no specific laws against domestic abuse. Effective prosecution of offenses was rare. In many cases victims decided against initiating legal charges against a family member because of family pressure, fear of further assault, or the belief that the police would not involve themselves actively in what was seen as a private family problem. Within the traditional extended family unit, violence, abuse, and neglect directed against spouses or children were deemed offenses against the family, not just the individual victims, and were addressed by a complex system of familial sanctions. Traditional methods of coping with family discord were breaking down with increasing urbanization, monetization of the economy, and greater emphasis on the nuclear family. No government entity, including the police, has succeeded in replacing the extended family system or in addressing the problem of family violence directly.
There were no governmental facilities to shelter and support women in abusive situations. In Chuuk there was a private facility for women’s groups, funded by a foreign government, but it did not include a shelter. The Pohnpei Department of Public Safety had a program of domestic violence education that included a hotline and training of its officers to handle domestic violence situations.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not prohibit sexual harassment, and anecdotal reports suggested it was pervasive.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children, and the information and means to do so free from discrimination. Access to contraception, prenatal care, skilled attendance at delivery, and postpartum care were widely available through private and public medical facilities. In 2010 authorities estimated the maternal mortality rate at 100 per 100,000 live births, a decrease from an estimated 128 per 100,000 live births from 2005-09. According to indicators published by the Population Reference Bureau, skilled health personnel attended an estimated 80 percent of births, and an estimated 46 percent of married women ages 15-49 used modern contraceptive methods. The government conducted public information campaigns on reproductive health matters through posters and billboards; other types of local media were not readily available.
Discrimination: Women have equal rights under the law, including the right to own property, and there were no institutional barriers to education or employment. The largest employers were the national and state governments, and female employees received equal pay for equal work. The public sector comprised approximately half of the country’s jobs, with 5,000-plus in state and municipal government positions and approximately 2,500 in national government and government agencies or public enterprises. Societal discrimination against women continued, however, and cultural mores encouraged differential treatment for women. For example, in Yap women may not enter a meeting hall during men’s meetings. In Chuuk women must bow in the presence of men during formal meetings. Nonetheless, women were active and increasingly successful in private business. The government formed a national women’s working group composed of female national government employees, including the secretary of health and social services, to advise the government on workplace discrimination. Additionally, several small nongovernmental organizations were interested in women’s issues, particularly those associated with family violence and abuse. The Women’s Interest Section of the Department of Health and Social Services worked to protect and promote women’s rights.