Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. The penalty for rape is six to 12 years in prison. The law also prohibits violence against women, and independent media and government agencies generally paid close attention to gender-based violence. The law sets prison sentences of six months to a year for domestic violence, threats of violence, or violations of restraining orders, with longer sentences if serious injuries result.
According to the government’s delegate for gender violence, as of July 26 partners or former partners killed 26 women. The delegate noted that only seven of the women killed had reported abuse prior to their deaths. According to the General Council of the Judiciary, of the 45,955 cases of gender violence prosecuted in 2014, 28,075, or 67 percent of the total, resulted in guilty verdicts. The Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence reported 33,917 complaints of gender-based violence in the first three months of the year.
National homicide statistics through March--the latest month for which countrywide homicide statistics are available--indicated that gender-based killings represented 11 percent of total killings in the country (eight of 72).
During the year the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality spent 4.8 million euros ($5.3 million) on awareness campaigns across the country, the same amount as in 2015. This spending did not include local government use of the ministry’s campaign images printed and disseminated at their own expense.
The Secretary of State for Equality operated a digital platform where units working on gender violence could share information, best practices, and documents. More than 50 offices provided legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, and there were more than 454 shelters for battered women. A 24-hour toll-free national hotline advised battered women on finding shelter and other local assistance. Through June the hotline handled 33,251 telephone calls in Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Portuguese, Romanian, and Russian, approximately 2,500 fewer than in the same period in 2015. In 2015 the hotline received a record 81,992 telephone calls. The website for the support and prevention of gender violence received 41,721 visits as of May 31.
The UN Human Rights Committee report warned that mostly unreported gender-based violence continued to be a problem in view of the high level of violence suffered by immigrant women from North Africa.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C and authorizes courts to prosecute residents of the country who have committed this crime in the country or anywhere in the world. Under the 2013-16 National Strategy for the Eradication of Violence against Women, doctors must ask parents in the country to sign a declaration promising their daughter(s) will not undergo FGM/C when they visit countries where the practice is common. Once a family returns to the country, a doctor, who can start legal action against the parents if examination finds that the minors underwent FGM/C during their trip, must examine the girl(s) again. Doctors must also inform the parents of the health consequences of FGM/C.
In July 2015 the government passed the Children Protection Law, which specifically provides for protection of minors against any type of violence, including FGM/C. More than 55,000 current female residents in the country are originally from countries that practice FGM/C.
During the year until August 26, police in Catalonia investigated six cases of FGM/C.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, but few cases came to trial. Harassment reportedly continued to be a problem. The punishment in minor cases can be between three and five months in jail or fines of six to eight months’ salary. In aggravated cases it can be five to seven months’ jail time or fines of 10 to 14 months’ salary. The court can increase penalties for victims the court determines may be especially vulnerable.
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: Under the law women enjoy the same rights as men. The government generally enforced the law.
Catalan law calls for equal representation in the public administration, coeducation in schools, equality plans for large businesses, and prohibition of the dissemination of sexist content on government-owned media.