Rape and Domestic Violence: The criminal code outlaws sexual intercourse through physical violence (or threat of violence) and provides for sentences of up to five years. If the victim is injured or is a minor, the maximum penalty is 10 years. Such a crime resulting in death, victimizing a child less than 14 years old, or committed by a recidivist may result in 15 to 25 years’ imprisonment or the death penalty. Although the death penalty exists in the criminal code, President Elbegdorj announced in 2012 that he would commute all death sentences and convert them to the maximum period of imprisonment permitted by law. Since then, the death penalty has been abolished in practice, if not in law. No law specifically prohibits spousal rape, which authorities do not commonly recognize or prosecute under more general criminal law. Cultural norms also presented obstacles to reporting. Many NGOs blamed law enforcement officials for spousal rape victims’ silence.
The NPA received 223 reports of rape as of the end of September. Authorities continued to report that increasing numbers of minor girls were victims of rape: 93 cases in the first nine months of the year, up from 54 cases in the first 10 months of 2013. NGOs alleged many rapes were not reported and claimed that police and judicial procedures imposed stress on victims and tended to discourage reporting of the crime. The Judicial General Council reported that during the first nine months of the year, there were 176 rape cases registered at court. These cases involved 150 victims, of whom 68 were minors. A total of 196 people were convicted, and courts assessed a total of 7,272,120 tugrugs ($3,880) in damages.
Domestic violence remained a serious and widespread problem. There is no specific criminal law provision on domestic violence, making difficult any effort to tabulate reported cases. The noncriminal Law to Combat Domestic Violence (2004) provides a measure of protection for victims of domestic abuse, including the possibility of obtaining restraining orders, but a number of procedural and enforcement barriers make restraining orders difficult to obtain and implement. Prosecutors may bring criminal charges for what amounts to domestic violence under more general provisions of the criminal code (such as those on assault, battery, infliction of injury, disorderly conduct, and hooliganism). The Law to Combat Domestic Violence requires police who receive reports of domestic violence to accept and file complaints, visit the site of incidents, interrogate offenders and witnesses, enforce administrative penalties, and take victims to a refuge. It also provides for sanctions against offenders, including expulsion from the home, prohibitions on the use of joint property, prohibitions on meeting victims and on access to minors, and compulsory training aimed at behavior modification. Domestic violence cannot be reported anonymously, and callers must often give their names and locations, thereby dissuading individuals from reporting domestic abuse due to fear their identity might be leaked to the perpetrator. NGOs reported restraining orders were rarely issued in cases involving domestic violence, and that, even when issued, restraining orders were poorly monitored and enforced.
According to the National Center Against Violence (NCAV), a local NGO that campaigns against domestic violence and runs shelters for victims, the number of police officers who reached out to the NCAV to ask for information regarding how to complete restraining order forms increased significantly compared with 2013. There were fewer complaints that police refused to respond to domestic violence calls because they considered it an internal family matter. The NCAV attributed the improvements to growing government and public awareness of domestic violence issues.
Individuals allegedly perpetrating domestic violence were sometimes detained under administrative law rather criminal law provisions. Detainees under administrative law in such circumstances were typically fined 15,000 tugrugs (eight dollars) and were released after a maximum detention of 72 hours. The determination of whether to charge abusers with administrative or criminal offenses depended on the severity of physical injury inflicted on the victim.
In the first nine months of the year, the NPA received 543 reports of domestic violence, nearly double the 284 reported for the same period in 2013. The NCAV attributed the increase to greater public awareness. Vigorous campaigning by NGOs, along with a December 2013 speech by President Elbegdorj drawing attention to the issue and calling on citizens to unite against domestic violence, were widely credited with bringing domestic violence into the public discourse and elevating governmental efforts to combat it. One outcome was the revision of all police officers’ position descriptions to include combating domestic violence.
The NCAV stated that in the first six months of the year, it provided temporary shelter to 83 persons (36 women and 47 children) at its shelters. The NCAV also provided psychological counseling to 371 individuals and legal counseling to 469 individuals (the categories overlap). A total of 712 people received services from the NCAV between January and June. Of the 712, 564 people were referred to the NCAV as victims of domestic violence, and 148 were referred as victims of sexual abuse. Of those who experienced sexual abuse, 82 percent were victimized by their spouse. The NCAV continued domestic violence prevention campaigns without governmental support. The government continued to contract with NGOs to provide services to victims. For example, for the year the NCAV received 22.4 million tugrugs ($11,950) from the General Social Welfare Services Agency, five million tugrugs ($2,670) from the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection and 28.5 million tugrugs ($15,200) from the Ministry of Justice to assist victims of domestic violence.
During the year a Division for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Crimes Against Children was established under the Ulaanbaatar Metropolitan Police Department. A new police-run shelter for domestic violence victims was also established under this division. The shelter staff received multiple iterations of Ministry of Justice-funded training from NCAV staff members during the year. NGOs applauded the establishment of the new division and the opening of the shelter, but the NCAV expressed concern that the existence of the police shelter--with 10 more beds than the NCAV’s Ulaanbaatar shelter, five times more staff, and government funding--had not alleviated pressure on the NCAV’s consistently overcrowded shelter given the rapidly increasing number of reported cases.
According to the NCAV, there were seven shelters (two in Ulaanbaatar) and five one-stop service centers (three in Ulaanbaatar), run by a variety of NGOs, local government agencies, and hospitals. The one-stop service centers, located primarily at hospitals, provided emergency shelter to victims for up to 72 hours. Victims who need longer accommodation were transferred to shelters. The very small number of shelters, particularly in rural areas, presented a challenge for domestic violence victims seeking assistance.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law, while not explicitly prohibiting FGM/C, prohibits the intentional infliction of severe bodily injury, and there were no reports of the practice during the year.
Sexual Harassment: The law charges employers with taking steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, including by establishing internal rules about sexual harassment and about the redress of complaints, but the law provides no penalties for sexual harassment. Although the law provides that victims of sexual harassment may file complaints with the NHRC, according to NHRC statistics such complaints were rare. A poll conducted by the NHRC found that internal regulations of nearly 70 percent of employers surveyed had no prohibition of sexual harassment, and those that did had no procedures for handling a sexual harassment complaint. NGOs stated there was a lack of awareness and consensus within society of what constituted inappropriate behavior, making it difficult to gauge the actual extent of the problem. The NHCR reported poor knowledge of the sexual harassment provisions in the law among both employers and employees.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of their children; to have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Observers cited long waiting times, a lack of confidentiality, and unprofessional treatment by medical personnel as problems at public reproductive health care facilities. A local NGO that supports teenage mothers reported that social stigma and poor knowledge of reproductive health impeded young women’s access to prenatal care. Additionally, although reproductive health information was widely available, it was rarely produced in a format accessible to persons with disabilities. According to the Mongolian National Federation of Wheelchair users, it was virtually impossible for women in wheelchairs to go to the hospital for prenatal checks, both because of a lack of physical access and negative attitudes.
Discrimination: The law provides men and women with equal rights in all areas, including equal pay for equal work and equal access to education. These rights were observed with some exceptions. The Law on Gender Equality sets mandatory quotas for the inclusion of women within the government and political parties. It also outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex, appearance, or age. In January 2013 the government adopted a midterm strategy and Action Plan for the Implementation of the Law on Gender Equality. During the year the government budgeted 52 million tugrugs ($27,730) for the implementation of the law and the midterm strategy.
Women made up approximately one-half of the workforce, and a significant number were the primary wage earners for their families. The law prohibits women from working in occupations that require heavy labor or exposure to chemicals that could affect infant and maternal health and the government effectively enforced these provisions. Many women occupied midlevel positions in government and business or were involved in the creation and management of new trading and manufacturing businesses. The mandatory retirement age is 60 for both men and women.
Despite the law women faced discrimination in employment. The NHRC found that men were more likely than women to be promoted or to be given professional development opportunities. Women also faced discriminatory policies with regard to family planning. In a 2013 NHRC survey, one in 10 women received verbal warnings from their employer not to marry within the first one to two years of employment, and 6.8 percent of survey respondents claimed employers warned them not to have children or adopt a newborn for two years. Surveys by various organizations and NGOs reflected that men and women were not paid equally for equal work performed. According to the NHRC, one obstacle to equal pay for equal work was that employers lacked clear methods for assessing what work is of equal value.
Divorced women secured alimony payments under the family law, which details the rights and responsibilities of each spouse regarding alimony and parenting. The former husband and wife evenly divide property and assets acquired during their marriage. In a majority of cases, the divorced wife retained custody of any children, while divorced husbands often failed to pay child support and were able to do so without penalty. Women’s activists said that because family businesses were usually registered under the husband’s name, ownership continued to be transferred automatically to the former husband in divorce cases.
There was no separate government agency to oversee women’s rights; however, the National Committee on Gender Equality under the Prime Minister’s Office coordinates policy and women’s interests among ministries and NGOs and gender sub-councils at the provincial and local level. There was also a division for women, children, and family concerns within the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection. In parliament a Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, and Science focused on gender matters.