Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. The penalty for rape is six to 12 years in prison. The law also prohibits violence against women, and independent media and government agencies generally paid close attention to gender violence. 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, by August 31, a total of 30 women were killed by their partner or former partner. The delegate noted that only 11 of the women killed had reported abuse prior to their death. According to the Special Prosecutor against Gender Violence, 67.2 percent of the 45,306 sentences resulted in conviction in 2012. The Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence reported 29,487 complaints of gender-based violence in the first quarter of the year. The observatory cautioned that immigrant women and women over the age of 56 remained vulnerable, especially to gender violence.
A report by the governmental polling group Sociological Research Center in 2012 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, 73 percent never reported the mistreatment, and 25 percent of those who did withdrew their complaint.
The secretary of state for equality operated 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 August, this hotline handled 37,002 telephone calls.
In April 2012 the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality and approximately 20 multinational companies created 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. On July 8, another 22 companies joined the program.
On July 26, the government approved the National Strategy to Eradicate Violence against Women for 2013-2016. The strategy includes 250 measures to fight gender violence, and has a budget of 100 million euros ($135 million).
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C and authorizes courts to prosecute cases even if the crime occurred overseas. According to the Wassu-Foundation, an NGO dedicated to the study and prevention of FGM/C, approximately 16,869 girls under the age of 14 in the country were at risk of FGM/C, 6,182 of whom resided in Catalonia.
In Catalonia the law requires that a doctor examine immigrants considered in danger of FGM/C when they travel to and from their countries of origin. Parents who subject their children 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. Catalan police registered 20 cases of women who were either treated for or prevented from being victims of FGM/C.
The government included the development of a sanitary protocol to fight FGM/C in the National Strategy to Eradicate Violence against Women 2013-2016.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace; however, harassment reportedly continued to be a problem although few cases are brought to trial. The punishment in minor cases can be between three and five months in jail or fines of six to eight months’ salary. In aggravated cases it can be five to seven months jail time or fines of 10-14 months’ salary. Penalties can be increased for victims who are determined to be especially vulnerable.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of their children and have 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 law, and inheritance law. Discriminatory wage differentials continued to exist, and women held fewer senior management positions than men. According to 2013 data from the National Statistical Institute, women earned 23 percent less than men for comparable work. 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.