Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law. The penalty for rape is two to 21 years in prison, depending on the severity of the assault, the age of the victim, and the circumstances under which the crime occurred. Very few cases, however, resulted in a sentence longer than three years and four months. According to police, various sources reported 588 rapes nationwide through the first half of the year. There were 50 attempted rapes reported to police nationwide through the first half of the year, five less than through the same period in 2011.
The media reported that in 2011, 892 of 1,186 reported rape cases (approximately 75 percent) were not prosecuted. A report issued in 2007 by the director of public prosecutions indicated that courts had dismissed 84 percent of rape cases reported to police between 2001 and 2005; authorities believed this was usually due to the victim’s reluctance to press charges, while Amnesty International reported that systemic inadequacies played a role. The same report noted that approximately 36 percent of rape trials ended in acquittal. Authorities have not presented a similar national analysis since 2007.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was a problem. The law provides higher penalties for domestic violence than for simple assault, one to three years in prison, with an increased term of up to six years in more severe cases and up to 21 years for aggravated rape. The government generally enforced the law in practice, although the Oslo Crisis Center criticized the conviction rate (approximately 13.8 percent in 2011) as too low. Through the first quarter of the year, police received 1,353 reports of domestic violence, 39 more than during the same period in 2011.
The government had programs to prevent rape and domestic violence and to counsel victims. Respective action plans require each of the country’s 27 police districts to have a domestic violence coordinator to assist victims. According to NGOs, however, only 12 police districts had a full-time domestic violence coordinator, and four districts had no coordinator. Public and private organizations operated 51 government-funded shelters and managed five 24-hour crisis hotlines. The shelters provided support and counseling for victims and helped them gain access to social services, doctors, lawyers, and housing authorities. Victims of domestic violence have a right to consult a lawyer free of charge before deciding whether to make a formal complaint. If criminal proceedings are instituted, the victim is entitled to free assistance from a victim’s advocate.
Sexual Harassment: The law provides that “employees shall not be subjected to harassment or other unseemly behavior,” and the government effectively enforced this provision. Employers who violate this law are subject to fines or prison sentences of up to two years, depending on the seriousness of the offense.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, and to have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status as men and enjoy identical rights under family and property laws and in the judicial system. The Ombudsman for Equality and Antidiscrimination (LDO) generally was effective in processing and investigating complaints of gender discrimination. However, in its report in December 2011, the ECRI regretted that the LDO did not have the necessary tools to enforce the duty of public authorities and employers to promote equality. During the year the LDO received more than 1,000 information requests and 170 complaints.
The law provides that women and men engaged in the same activity shall receive equal wages for work of equal value. According to Statistics Norway, women received largely the same pay and benefits as men for equal work but in 2011 earned on average 15 percent less than men on a monthly basis. The government attributed this to differences in the professions chosen by women and men and the predominance of women in part-time or public-sector work. The LDO expressed concern that many women were in part-time positions involuntarily because of a tendency in certain industries, such as health and service, to divide work into a large number of part-time slices with no meaningful full-time alternative. In October, 39 percent of women and 1 percent of men worked part time.
The law mandates that 40 percent of the boards of directors of publicly listed companies be women; virtually all public companies complied with the law.