Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a crime, but evidentiary requirements, either in the form of clear physical injury or the testimony of a witness, often presented difficulties in prosecuting such crimes. The penalties for rape range from six months’ to 20 years’ imprisonment. There were no reports of police or judicial reluctance to act on rape cases; however, women’s rights advocates claimed that attitudes of police, hospitals, and courts toward survivors of sexual violence sometimes revictimized the individual.
The Rape Victims’ Association reported more than 2,400 rape cases during the year. Many rapes went unreported due to fear of further violence, retribution, and social stigma.
The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse, and complaints are addressed in civil courts to secure protection measures. Family court judges have the right to bar a perpetrator from a victim’s home or workplace. The law requires the state to open a criminal investigation potentially resulting in life imprisonment in cases where violence results in death. In November, Congress passed the Femicide Law, imposing stricter penalties on those who kill their spouses, partners, or children as a consequence of gender violence. According to local NGOs, lack of police and judicial vigilance often led to a lack of protection for victims.
Domestic violence against women was a problem. The civil society organization La Casa del Encuentro reported that 119 women died during the first half of the year as a result of domestic or gender-based violence. Approximately one-third of these cases occurred in Buenos Aires and the surrounding province. Of these killings, 59 percent involved a husband, boyfriend, or former boyfriend; in at least 16 cases, the woman had filed a complaint against the aggressor for domestic violence.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence provided around-the-clock protection and resources to victims of domestic violence. The office received approximately 800 cases of domestic violence each month in the city of Buenos Aires, an estimated 63 percent of which involved violence against women (a percentage that grew by approximately 15 to 20 percent since November 2011). The office also carried out risk assessments necessary to obtain a restraining order.
On October 15, the Office of Domestic Violence and the Security Ministry signed an agreement to train members of the Federal Police, Navy, and Gendarmerie; as a result, 1,850 members of security forces in the city of Buenos Aires received guidance on domestic violence intervention.
The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights continued to operate mobile units to assist victims of sexual and domestic violence in the city of Buenos Aires. A free hotline servicing the city and the province of Buenos Aires offered consultations and received complaints.
Public and private institutions offered prevention programs and provided support and treatment for abused women. The Buenos Aires Municipal Government operated a small shelter for battered women.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment in the public sector is prohibited under laws that impose disciplinary or corrective measures. In some jurisdictions, such as Buenos Aires City, sexual harassment may lead to the abuser’s dismissal, whereas in others, such as Santa Fe Province, the maximum penalty is five days in prison.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals generally had the right to decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of children, and had the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to information on contraception, and skilled attendance at delivery and in postpartum care were widely available. The law requires the government to provide free contraceptives, and an estimated 64-70 percent of women used modern contraceptive means.
Discrimination: Although women enjoyed equal rights under the law, including property rights, they continued to face economic discrimination and held a disproportionately high number of lower-paying jobs. Women also held significantly fewer executive positions in the private sector than men, according to several studies. The 2012 Global Gender Gap Report estimated that women earned 38 percent less than men for similar or equal work.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Women trains judges, secretaries, and clerks to deal with court cases related to women’s issues; it also seeks to ensure equal access for women to positions in the court system. Throughout the year this office trained judges, prosecutors, judicial staff, and law enforcement agents to increase awareness of gender-related crimes.