Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a crime punishable by a maximum of 25 years’ imprisonment. During the year there was no reported case of rape. There are no laws on domestic violence. Cases that would be characterized as domestic violence are prosecuted as assault and battery. Alcohol and drug abuse contributed to violence and crime against women and children. According to the Office of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Health, and women’s groups, reported cases of women and children as victims of crimes represented a relatively small percentage of cases of actual abuse. Assault is a criminal offense, punishable by up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $100 (the U.S. dollar is the official currency), and the police responded when such cases were reported; women, however, were reluctant to press charges against their spouses. There were no shelters for victims. The government conducted public education efforts to combat abuse against women and children.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal. In June Senator Hokkons Baules began serving a 90-day jail sentence for charges of criminal assault and battery, and verbal and sexual assault. Three years of his jail sentence were suspended. He was ordered to pay fines and restitutions and complete two years’ probation after being released from jail. He was convicted for assaulting Filipina waitresses working at his restaurant.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children, and they had the information and means to do so free from discrimination. Access to information on contraception, and skilled attendance at delivery and in postpartum care, were widely available at the government’s Belau National Hospital. Belau National Hospital, private clinics, and department stores provided contraceptive products. According to the government, the maternal mortality rate was reported to be at zero in 2011.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal rights as men. The inheritance of property and of traditional rank is matrilineal, with women occupying positions of importance within the traditional system. There were no reported instances of unequal pay for equal work or gender-related job discrimination. There are laws protecting women from job discrimination and providing for equal pay for equal work. The Bureau of Aging and Gender, under the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs, promotes gender workplace equality.
A local women’s group held an annual conference on women’s and children’s issues, including health, education, drug abuse, prostitution, and traditional customs and values. Government officials, including the president, vice president, ministers, and traditional chiefs, participated.