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.
No statistics were available on the number of rape cases reported 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 2012 Congress passed the Femicide Law, imposing stricter penalties on those who kill their spouses, partners, or children as a consequence of gender violence. In July the executive branch enacted a law creating a national DNA registry of sex criminals. 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 209 women died between January and September as a result of domestic or gender-based violence. Approximately half of these cases occurred in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Cordoba, and Santa Fe. Of these killings, 68 percent involved a husband, boyfriend, or former boyfriend. In at least 20 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 830 cases of domestic violence each month in the city of Buenos Aires, an estimated 64 percent of which involved violence against women. The office also carried out risk assessments necessary to obtain a restraining order. The “Victims against Violence Program,” which operated in the city of Buenos Aires and Chaco Province, empowers a team of specialists from the Justice and Security Ministry to assist victims of domestic violence. The program reported an average of 700 telephone calls per month.
Since 2008 there have been 1,236 reported cases of femicide. Since the highly publicized murder of Wanda Taddei, who was burned to death by her husband in 2010, there have been 66 similar killings, including seven in the first half of the year.
The Ministry of Social Development of the province of Buenos Aires reported 221 formal complaints of physical abuse against women during the first three months of the year. Individuals ages 20 to30 constituted a majority of the victims, and 53 percent of the cases involved psychological and emotional mistreatment.
Pursuant to an October 2012 agreement, the Office of Domestic Violence and the Security Ministry trained members of the Federal Police, Navy, and Gendarmerie in the city of Buenos Aires on domestic violence intervention. Statistics on the number trained were not available at the end of the year.
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: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the public sector and imposes 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 to70 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. Although equal payment for equal work is constitutionally mandated, the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report estimated that women earned approximately 58 percent as much as 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. The office also trained judges, prosecutors, judicial staff, and law enforcement agents to increase awareness of gender-related crimes and develop techniques to deal with gender-related cases and victims.