Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape. While not specifically addressed in the law, spousal rape may be considered a crime if the actions meet the criminal code’s definition of rape. The law requires the OAG to prosecute rape cases whether or not the victim presses charges, and the law does not permit the victim’s pardon to nullify the criminal charge. The penalty for rape is six to 10 years’ imprisonment, but the law provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years for rape of certain classes of victims, including children and persons with disabilities.
Incidents of rape continued to be underreported for several reasons, including societal and cultural pressures on victims, fear of reprisal, ineffective and unsupportive responses by authorities toward victims, fear of publicity, and a perception among victims that cases were unlikely to be prosecuted. Laws against rape were not effectively enforced.
Rape and other sexual crimes against women were widespread. The OAG reported 3,061 cases of sexual crimes resulting in 246 convictions during the year. ISDEMU reported 4,211 cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse, rape, and psychological abuse.
On June 1, the OAG reported that 70 percent of judicial processes for rape and other sexual crimes did not result in convictions because either the victims or their relatives abandoned the judicial process.
During the year ISDEMU provided health and psychological assistance to 5,083 women who experienced sexual abuse, domestic violence, mistreatment, sexual harassment, labor harassment, commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking in persons, or alien smuggling.
The law prohibits domestic violence and provides for sentences ranging from one to three years in prison. The law also permits obtaining restraining orders against offenders. Laws against domestic violence were not well enforced, and cases were not effectively prosecuted.
Violence against women, including domestic violence, was a widespread and serious problem. During the year the OAG reported 3,367 cases of domestic violence, resulting in 51 convictions, while mediation resolved 811 cases. A large portion of the population considered domestic violence socially acceptable, and, as with rape, its incidence was underreported.
On September 11, the Legislative Assembly removed legislative immunity from Rodrigo Samayoa, a deputy with the Grand Alliance for National Unity, because of domestic violence charges. This was the first time that the Legislative Assembly had removed immunity privileges from a deputy charged with domestic violence.
During the year President Funes engaged in a government campaign to support SIS in its efforts to eliminate violence against women. ISDEMU coordinated with the judicial and executive branches and civil society groups to conduct public awareness campaigns against domestic violence and sexual abuse. The PDDH, OAG, Supreme Court, Public Defender’s Office, and PNC collaborated with NGOs and other organizations to combat violence against women through education, increased enforcement of the law, and NGO support for programs for victims. SIS, through ISDEMU, defined policies, programs, and projects on domestic violence and continued to maintain a telephone hotline and a shelter for victims of domestic abuse and child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The government’s efforts to combat domestic violence were minimally effective.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides penalties of imprisonment from three to five years if the victim is an adult and from four to eight years if the victim is a minor. Fines can also be imposed, and additional fines are added to the prison term in cases where the perpetrator is in a position of authority or trust over the victim. On April 28, a new law and related implementing regulations entered into force. The law also mandates that employers take measures to avoid sexual harassment, violence against women, and other workplace harassment problems. The law requires employers to create and implement preventative programs that address violence against women, sexual abuse and other psychosocial risks. The government, however, did not enforce sexual harassment laws effectively.
Since underreporting by victims of sexual harassment appeared to be widespread, it was difficult to estimate the extent of the problem. The OAG reported 629 cases of sexual harassment during the year, of which 44 resulted in convictions and 41 were resolved through mediation.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children, and information about and access to contraception was widely available. Demographic Health Surveys indicated that 72 percent of married women used some method of family planning. Prenatal care and skilled attendance at delivery were also readily available. On June 16, the Ministry of Health announced that the maternal mortality rate was 52.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, down from the UN Population Fund’s 2008 estimate of 110. Poverty, lack of education, and lack of access to a formal medical care system were the major factors contributing to a high maternal mortality rate.
Discrimination: The constitution grants women and men the same legal rights under family and property law, but women did not enjoy equal treatment in practice. The law establishes sentences of one to three years in prison for public officials who deny a person’s civil rights based on gender, and six months to two years for employers who discriminate against women in the workplace. However, employees generally did not report such violations due to fear of employer reprisals.
Although pregnancy testing as a condition for employment is illegal, some businesses allegedly required female job applicants to present pregnancy test results, and some businesses illegally fired pregnant workers. During the year the Ministry of Labor received 29 complaints regarding illegal firing of pregnant workers but imposed no fines.
Although the law prohibits discrimination based on gender, women suffered from cultural, economic, and societal discrimination. Although the law requires equal pay for equal work, the average wage paid to women for comparable work was 57 percent of that paid to men. Men often received priority in job placement and promotions, and women were not accorded equal treatment in traditional male-dominated sectors, such as agriculture and business. Training for women generally was confined to low-wage occupational areas where women already held most positions, such as teaching, nursing, apparel assembly, home industry, and small business.
In September 2011 the PNC director created an internal agency tasked with increasing gender equality within the PNC. On March 22, the National Public Security Academy graduated 253 police officers, and for the first time in its history there were more female graduates (160) than male graduates (93).