Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. It also prohibits violence against women, and independent media and government agencies generally paid close attention to gender violence. The penalty for rape is six to 12 years in prison. The law sets prison sentences of six months to a year for domestic violence, threats of violence, or violations of restraining orders, with longer sentences if serious injuries result.
According to the government’s Delegate for Gender Violence, as of September 12, 33 women were killed by their partner or former partner during the year. The delegate noted that only six of the women killed had reported abuse prior to their death. According to the Special Prosecutor against Gender Violence, 40 of 46 domestic violence cases (85 percent) resulted in conviction in 2011. The Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence reported 134,002 complaints of gender-based violence in 2011. The complaints resulted in 52,294 judicial rulings, 31,403 of which were convictions. The observatory cautioned that immigrant women and women over the age of 56 remained vulnerable groups to gender violence.
A report by the governmental polling group Sociological Research Center in February showed that 10.9 percent of women (2.15 million) suffered mistreatment at a certain point in their lives, and 600,000 sometime during the year. Of the victims, 72.6 percent never reported the mistreatment, and 25 percent of those who did withdrew their complaint. During the year 800,000 children (10 percent of the child population) witnessed mistreatment suffered by their mothers. Additionally, 517,000 children were victims of mistreatment within the context of gender violence.
In November 2011 the secretary of state for equality launched a digital platform where units working on gender violence could share information, best practices, and documents. More than 50 offices provided legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, and there were more than 454 shelters for battered women. A 24-hour toll-free national hotline advised battered women on finding shelter and other local assistance. The hotline took calls in Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Portuguese, Romanian, and Russian. As of November, this hotline had handled 51,304 telephone calls.
In April the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality reached an agreement with approximately 20 multinational companies for the creation of a program called “Businesses in favor of a society free of gender violence” by which the companies include messages against gender violence in their products, at no cost to the government.
In May the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality distributed five million euros ($6.6 million) among the country’s autonomous regions to develop assistance plans to victims of gender violence. It also made the resources from the ministry’s “Do not skip the signs of abuse, choose to live” campaign available to regional and local entities.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C is prohibited, and the law authorizes courts to prosecute cases even if the crime occurred overseas. Approximately 14,000 girls in the country were at risk of FGM/C, according to the Wassu-UAB Foundation, the only NGO in the country dedicated to the study and prevention of FGM/C.
In Catalonia the law requires that a doctor examine immigrants considered to be in danger of FGM/C when they travel to and from their countries of origin. Parents whose children are determined to have been subjected to FGM/C risk losing custody. Catalan regional police had procedures to prevent FGM/C through the early detection of potential victims, immediate reporting of possible cases to appropriate authorities, and when possible, preventing the travel of potential victims. By year’s end the Catalan police registered 26 cases representing a total of 31 women who were either treated for or prevented from being victims of FGM/C.
In February the Catalan government established an interdepartmental working group to combat FGM/C.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace; however, harassment was reported to be a problem.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of their children and enjoy the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Discrimination: Under the law women enjoy the same rights as men, including rights under family law, property law, labor and inheritance law, and in the judicial system. Discriminatory wage differentials continued to exist, and women held fewer senior management positions than men. According to data from the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality, women earned 22 percent less than men. The Women’s Institute within the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality conducted and published studies on women’s problems and processed complaints of gender-based discrimination.