Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape. Penalties for rape range from five to 15 years’ imprisonment, and the government generally enforced the law when violations were reported.
The law protects the privacy and safety of the victim making the charge. Between January and November, the Public Prosecutor’s Office investigated 4,676 cases of rape, and the courts handed down 469 rape convictions and convicted 431 individuals between January and November. Experts, however, believed that most rape cases went unreported due to fear of further violence, retribution, and social stigma.
The law criminalizes both physical and psychological domestic violence. Nevertheless, it remained a serious problem in the country. From January to June, police filed 66,523 cases of domestic violence. From January to September, there were 32,638 convictions and 140 sentences. Family courts handle cases of domestic violence and penalize offenders with fines up to 556,680 pesos ($1,145). Additional sanctions include eviction of the offender from the residence shared with the victim, restraining orders, confiscation of firearms, and court-ordered counseling. Cases of habitual psychological abuse and physical abuse cases in which there are physical injuries are prosecuted in the criminal justice system. Penalties are based on the gravity of injuries and range from 61 to 540 days’ imprisonment.
Authorities generally enforced the law in cases reported to them, and there was no indication of police or judicial reluctance to act. Experts believed that most domestic violence cases went unreported due to fear of further violence, retribution, and social stigma. The National Survey of Domestic Violence 2012 revealed that 32 percent of women suffered some kind of domestic violence from their family members, partners, or former partners during their lifetime. Of these aggressions, women reported only 36 percent to authorities, citing fear as the main reason for not reporting.
In its 2012 country report, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern at the lack of measures taken by the government to address other forms of violence against women, including femicide outside the family sphere and sexual violence. CEDAW also expressed concern at the disproportionate use of violence by police, including sexual abuse against female students during social protests and against women during Mapuche protests, an absence of prosecution of perpetrators, and the government’s failure to provide access to justice to women victims of such violence.
The government added social media to the domestic violence media campaign launched in 2010. The National Women’s Service (SERNAM) operated 96 assistance centers or “Women’s Centers” and 23 women’s shelters, and it maintained partnerships with NGOs to provide training sessions for police officers and judicial and municipal authorities on the legal and psychological aspects of domestic violence. The Ministry of Justice and the PDI operated several offices specifically dedicated to providing counseling and assistance in rape cases. SERNAM also operated a 24-hour hotline for victims of violence, including domestic abuse and rape. In October SERNAM launched a new awareness campaign, “Violence Against Women Angers Me,” to address this abuse. Data was not available to assess the effectiveness of government campaigns against domestic and sexual violence.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is not a criminal offense but is classified as a misdemeanor, with penalties outlined exclusively in the labor code. By law, sexual harassment is cause for immediate dismissal from employment. The law requires employers to define internal procedures for investigating sexual harassment, and employers may face fines and additional financial compensation to victims if internal procedures are not met. The law provides protection to victims of sexual harassment by employers and coworkers. It also provides severance pay to victims who resign due to sexual harassment if they have completed at least one year with the employer. Authorities generally enforced the law in cases reported to them, and there was no evidence of police or judicial reluctance to act. From January to August, the Labor Directorate received 111 complaints of sexual harassment reported by individuals and companies, and companies were sanctioned for procedural noncompliance.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Government policy did not interfere with access to contraception, skilled attendance during childbirth, prenatal care, or essential obstetric and postpartum care. Despite the fact that emergency contraception is legal and that the law provides for the free distribution of emergency contraception in the public health system, many hospitals and clinics continued to refuse to prescribe it.
Discrimination: Although women possess most of the same legal rights as men, discrimination in employment, pay, owning and managing businesses, and education persisted. There were no known reports of discrimination in credit or housing. The default and most common marital arrangement is “conjugal society,” which gives a husband the right to administer joint property, including his wife’s property. As a result, women who were married under the conjugal society arrangement were usually required to obtain permission from their husbands to apply for housing subsidies and take out loans or mortgages, while men had unrestricted access to these and other services. Legislation remained pending six years after a 2007 agreement with the IACHR to modify the “conjugal society law” to give women and men equal rights and responsibilities in marriage. The commercial code provides that, unless a woman is married under the separate estate regime, she may not enter into a commercial partnership agreement without permission from her husband, while a man may enter into such an agreement without permission from his wife.
Despite a law providing for equal pay for equal work, the average woman’s annual income was 49 percent that of men, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Global Gender Gap Report. Fifty-two percent of women participated in the labor force during the year (compared with 79 percent of men), but 74 percent of women enrolled in tertiary education, compared with 67 percent of men. SERNAM is in charge of protecting women’s legal rights and is the only government office that deals specifically with discrimination against women. There are 96 “women’s centers” throughout the country to help establish equal rights for women by offering services such as training, counseling, and legal advice.