Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a crime, but evidentiary requirements, either in the form of clear physical injury or in the testimony of a witness, often presented difficulties in prosecuting such crimes. The penalties for rape range from six months’ to 20 years’ imprisonment. There were no reports of police or judicial reluctance to act on rape cases; women’s rights advocates, however, claimed that the attitudes of police, hospitals, and courts toward survivors of sexual violence sometimes revictimized them. They noted a lack of interest in or training for law enforcement officials in protecting survivors or enforcing measures against aggressors, a lack of gender training for legal aid lawyers, and judicial responses that were insufficient to stop domestic violence.
An April report by the Secretariat of Criminal Policy, Ministry of Security, reported that during 2015, there were 3,484 prosecutions for rape, representing an incidence of 8.7 victims per 100,000 inhabitants. Many rapes went unreported due to fear of further violence, retribution, and social stigma.
The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse, which is broadly defined by a 2009 federal statute to include physical, psychological, and economic violence. Survivors of domestic violence may secure protective measures through the civil courts. Family court judges have the right to bar a perpetrator from a victim’s home or workplace. The law requires the state to open a criminal investigation, potentially resulting in life imprisonment, in cases where violence results in death. The law imposes stricter penalties on those who kill their spouses, partners, or children as a consequence of their gender. According to local NGOs, lack of police and judicial vigilance often led to a lack of protection for victims.
On July 29, a Buenos Aires City Court of Appeals ordered a person accused of committing domestic violence and his alleged victim to wear geolocation devices in order for authorities to monitor compliance with a restraining order issued in the case.
The National Register of Femicides, maintained by the Supreme Court Women’s Office, recorded that 235 women died as a result of domestic or gender-based violence during 2015. In 20 percent of the cases, the victim had applied for a restraining order or had previously filed a complaint against the male perpetrator. More than 70 percent of the killings involved a husband, boyfriend, or former boyfriend.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence provided around-the-clock protection and resources to victims of domestic violence. The office received approximately 805 cases of domestic violence in the city of Buenos Aires during the first nine months of the year, approximately 62 percent of which involved violence against women. The office also carried out risk assessments necessary to obtain a restraining order.
Public and private institutions offered prevention programs and provided support and treatment for abused women. The Buenos Aires Municipal Government operated a small shelter for battered women.
On July 26, the government published the first national action plan to reduce violence against women, which was scheduled to go into effect in 2017. The plan increases spending on women’s rights initiatives, public awareness campaigns to combat sexual and gender-based violence, and innovative technologies to help victims receive treatment and protection.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the public sector and imposes disciplinary or corrective measures. In some jurisdictions, such as the city of Buenos Aires, sexual harassment might lead to the abuser’s dismissal, whereas in others, such as Santa Fe Province, the maximum penalty is five days in prison.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals generally 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, and violence.
Civil society groups asserted that a 2012 Supreme Court ruling reaffirming a woman’s right to terminate pregnancy in all circumstances permitted by law, including as a result of rape, irrespective of the woman’s intellectual or psychosocial capacity, was not uniformly applied.
On August 18, authorities provisionally released “Belen,” the pseudonym for a 27-year-old woman from the province of Tucuman, from prison. On April 16, a provincial court sentenced Belen to eight years in prison for aggravated homicide; Tucuman authorities had claimed her 2014 miscarriage was an induced abortion. The provincial court freed her after national and international human rights groups protested her imprisonment and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights filed a motion of concern over irregularities in her case. At year’s end Belen remained free on appeal of her conviction.
Discrimination: Although women enjoyed the same legal status and rights as men, they continued to face economic discrimination and held a disproportionately high number of lower-paying jobs. Women also held significantly fewer executive positions in the private sector than men, according to several studies. Although equal payment for equal work is constitutionally mandated, women earned approximately 27 percent less than men earned for similar or equal work.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Women trained judges, secretaries, and clerks to handle court cases related to women’s issues and ensure equal access for women to positions in the court system. The office also trained judges, prosecutors, judicial staff, and law enforcement agents to increase awareness of gender-related crimes and develop techniques to address gender-related cases and victims.