Rape and Domestic Violence: The law makes rape, including spousal rape, illegal, and the government generally enforced the law when the victim chose to press charges and the cases were not settled out of court through mediation by both parties’ lawyers. During 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, 94 cases of rape were reported to the Association for Victim Support (APAV), a nonprofit organization that provides confidential and free services nationwide to victims of any type of crime.
The law provides for criminal penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment in cases of violence by a spouse, and the judicial system prosecuted persons accused of abusing women; however, traditional societal attitudes discouraged many abused women from using the judicial system. According to data from the Directorate-General for Internal Administration, during the first three months of 2011, there were 58 convictions for domestic violence. Only 6 percent of these cases resulted in actual prison sentences for the abusers; courts acquitted 52 percent of the suspects.
Violence against women, including domestic violence, continued to be a problem. During 2011, 15,724 crimes of domestic violence were reported to the APAV, including 348 cases of sexual offense and 108 cases of sexual violence. According to preliminary data by NGOs and media reports, during the year there were 36 deaths related to domestic violence.
The government encouraged abused women to file complaints with the appropriate authorities and offered the victim protection against the abuser. In addition the law allows third parties to file domestic violence reports. The government’s Commission for Equality and Women’s Rights operated 14 safe houses for victims of domestic violence and maintained an around-the-clock telephone service. Safe-house services included food, shelter, and health and legal assistance. The government-sponsored Mission against Domestic Violence conducted an awareness campaign against domestic violence, trained health professionals, proposed legislation to improve legal assistance to victims, and signed protocols with local authorities to assist victims.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a crime with penalties ranging from one to eight years in prison. If perpetrated by a superior in the workplace, the penalty is up to two years in prison, or more in cases of aggravated coercion.
The Commission on Equality in the Workplace and in Employment, composed of representatives of the government, employers’ organizations, and labor unions, examines, but does not adjudicate, complaints of sexual harassment. In 2011, 67 cases of sexual harassment were reported to the APAV.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely 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: The civil code provides women full legal equality with men; however, in practice women experienced economic and other forms of discrimination. According to 2011 data from the National Statistics Institute, women made up 47 percent of the working population and were increasingly represented in business, science, academia, and the professions. However, according to the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security, women’s average salaries were approximately 27 percent lower than men’s, and the gap was widening.
The state secretary for parliamentary affairs and equality addresses, among other topics, problems such as economic discrimination and integration of women into the mainstream of society.