Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law. The penalty for rape is two to 21 years in prison, depending on the severity of the assault, the age of the victim, and the circumstances in which the crime occurred. Very few cases resulted in a sentence longer than three years and four months in prison.
Amnesty International Norway continued to claim that the law inadequately protected women against violence and that statistics on rape and sexual assault were not regularly updated. Amnesty criticized police for poor investigation of rape cases and cited a lack of training for lay judges, resulting in personal prejudices affecting the judges’ vote. Media reports of transcripts and discussions among lay judges in several rape cases showed prejudices regarding the victim’s skirt length, the amount of alcohol consumed prior to the rape, and statements such as “that slut was looking for it wearing a dress like that.”
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was a problem. The law provides higher penalties for domestic violence (one to three years in prison) than for simple assault, with an increased term of up to six years in more severe cases and up to 21 years for aggravated rape. The government generally enforced the law, although the foundation Oslo Crisis Center continued to criticize the conviction rate (approximately 10 percent) as too low.
The government had programs to prevent rape and domestic violence and to counsel victims. Following the consolidation of police districts from 27 to 12 as of January 1, all 12 districts had a domestic violence coordinator.
Public and private organizations operated 45 government-funded shelters and managed five 24-hour crisis hotlines. The Oslo Crisis Center believed that the network of shelters was too small and that many women were less likely or unable to seek help, since they would have to travel long distances to do so, especially in the sparsely populated districts in the north of the country. The shelters provided support and counseling for victims and helped them gain access to social services, doctors, lawyers, and housing authorities. Survivors of domestic violence have a right to consult a lawyer free of charge before deciding whether to make a formal complaint. If the government initiates criminal proceedings, the survivor is entitled to free assistance from a victim’s advocate.
Sexual Harassment: The law provides that “employees shall not be subjected to harassment or other unseemly behavior,” and the government effectively enforced this provision. Employers who violate this law are subject to fines or prison sentences of up to two years, depending on the seriousness of the offense. The ombudsman for equality and antidiscrimination concluded that sexual harassment was not an acute problem in the country.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status as men. Approximately 28 percent, or 50 of the 181 complaints received and investigated by the ombudsman for equality and antidiscrimination in 2015, concerned discrimination based on gender. Women experienced discrimination in employment.
The law mandates that 40 percent of the members of boards of directors of publicly listed companies be women, and virtually all public companies complied with the law.