Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, but it was not effectively enforced; the law was largely unknown in rural areas where the majority of rapes took place. Penalties range from two to eight years’ imprisonment if the victim is 12 years of age or older and 20 to 24 years’ imprisonment if the victim is under 12, according to the new penal code approved in December.
According to NGO reports, many families preferred to settle such matters through community courts or privately through financial remuneration rather than through the formal judicial system. Although spousal rape was rarely reported, it was regarded as a common problem. There were few reports of successfully prosecuted rape cases since few cases were filed, and among those filed, poor police work and lack of sufficient evidence led to even fewer successful prosecutions. Judges commonly exercised strict confidentiality regarding rape cases.
The law prohibits violence against women and nonconsensual sex, including between married individuals. The law also provides penalties of up to 12 years’ imprisonment for engaging in sexual activity while knowingly infected with a sexually contagious disease. There were no reports of investigation or prosecution of such cases.
Domestic violence against women, particularly spousal rape and beatings, remained widespread. According to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report, 54 percent of all women reported being victims of sexual or physical abuse. Abuse of a spouse or unmarried partner is punishable with one to two years in prison, or a greater penalty if another crime is also applicable. A 2012 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Health, and the National Statistics Institute revealed 22.9 percent of women and 19.9 percent of men surveyed believed it was justifiable to beat a woman under certain circumstances. In Nampula, the most populous province of the country, Ministry of Interior’s centers for women and children who are victims of violence, abuse, and exploitation, registered 912 cases of domestic violence against women in the first six months of 2013, compared with 620 cases in 2012.
Although domestic violence was considered a valid reason to leave a partner, women often had few economic or social alternatives and thus remained with the abuser. A woman who leaves an abusive partner risks losing her position in the household and the larger community. An estimated 95 percent of women were dependent on the community or family-based, typically agricultural, economy.
Many young women also engaged in transactional sex with older, wealthier men in order to survive economically.
With the exception of some ethnic and religious groups, the groom’s family provided a bride price to the bride’s family, usually in the form of money, livestock, or other goods, although this practice had become somewhat less common in recent years. Among Muslims, the bride’s family usually paid for the wedding and provided gifts. Some believed these payments contributed to violence against women and other inequalities, due to the perception the women were thus owned by their husbands.
Government agencies and NGOs implemented public outreach campaigns to promote the prevention and to combat violence against women in all 11 of the country’s provinces.
Police and NGOs often worked together to combat domestic violence. The PRM operated special women’s and children’s units within police squadrons that received high numbers of cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and violence against children and assisted victims and their families. All 30 police squadrons in Maputo had women’s and children’s centers.
A 2014 report released by IREX, a media civil society organization, stated local journalists often failed to take appropriate procedures to protect the identity of women rape victims and treated such cases as isolated incidents.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The new penal code passed in December prohibits castration. There were no reports of FGM/C cases during the year.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal; however, it was pervasive in business, government, and schools.
Reproductive Rights: The government generally recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; and the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Health-care clinics and local NGOs could operate freely in disseminating information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. There were no restrictions on access to family planning; however, according to the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, just 11 percent of married girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 used a modern method of contraception. Rural communities often had limited access to basic health services. Many persons in poor communities believed large families enhanced wealth generation. Health organizations reported that 11 percent of maternal deaths were caused by illegal abortion procedures.
The country had a high maternal mortality rate (480 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013), and a woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death was one in 41. This was due to poor clinical capacity for obstetric emergencies--such as hemorrhages and obstructed delivery during labor--and to a severe lack of doctors--a total of 1,452 for the whole country as of end of 2013--and nurses, especially in rural areas. Other reasons included poor infrastructure, a high HIV/AIDS rate, high rates of adolescent pregnancy, and poor access to health-care facilities, often resulting in delays in providing medical care. Hemorrhages, uterine ruptures, and eclampsia accounted for more than half of maternal deaths, followed closely by HIV/AIDS at approximately 13 percent, according to the most recently available estimates. According to the Ministry of Health, approximately two-thirds of births occurred in health-care facilities in 2013, but this proportion was lower for HIV-positive women.
Discrimination: The law provides women the same legal status and rights as men under family, labor, property, and inheritance laws but does not specifically require equal pay for equal work. The law contains special provisions to protect women against abuse and excessive physical work or night shift requirements during pregnancies. Many women remained uninformed about the law.
Women continued to experience economic discrimination (see section 7.d.).
Relative gender gaps in life expectancy, education, and income remained high. In some regions, particularly the northern provinces, women had limited access to the formal judicial system for enforcement of rights provided under the civil code and instead relied on customary law to settle disputes. Under customary law women typically have no rights to inherit land.
Women held only a small proportion of government, public enterprise, and private-sector salaried jobs, and they had correspondingly lower social security benefits and less access to higher-paying occupations than did men. The remainder worked as casual laborers or in the informal sector, primarily in subsistence agriculture. Enforcement of laws that protect women’s rights to landownership was poor.
The practice of “purification,” whereby a widow is obligated to have unprotected sex with a member of her deceased husband’s family, continued, particularly in rural areas. In some instances women reported losing inheritance rights for not being “purified” following the death of their husbands.
The parliament has a women’s caucus, composed of members from the three parties with parliamentary seats, which seeks to address issues on gender balance, women representation in decision-making bodies and advocacy of women’s rights.