Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes all forms of rape of men or women, including spousal rape. The government considers rape a crime of public concern, and the state prosecutes rapists even if victims do not press charges. The penalties for rape range from three to nine years’ imprisonment, and the courts enforced these penalties.
The law provides penalties of up to four years in prison for domestic violence; however, if a victim’s physical injuries do not reach the severity required to categorize the violence as a criminal act, the only legal penalty for a first offense is a sentence of one to three months of community service. Female victims of domestic violence are entitled to certain protective measures. Abusers caught in the act may be detained for up to 24 hours as a preventive measure. The law provides a maximum sentence of three years in prison for disobeying a restraining order connected with the crime of intrafamilial violence.
In cooperation with the UN Development Program, the government operated consolidated reporting centers in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula where women could report crimes, seek medical and psychological attention, and receive other services. These reporting centers were in addition to the 298 government-operated women’s offices–one in each municipality–that provided a wide array of services to women, focusing on education, personal finance, health, social and political participation, environmental stewardship, and prevention of gender-based violence.
Sexual Harassment: Both the penal and labor codes criminalize various forms of sexual harassment. Violators face penalties of one to three years in prison and possible suspension of their professional licenses, but the government did not effectively enforce the law.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
Discrimination: Although the law accords women and men the same legal rights and status, including property rights in divorce cases, many women did not fully enjoy such rights. Most women in the workforce engaged in lower-status and lower-paying informal occupations, such as domestic service, without the benefit of legal protections. By law women have equal access to educational opportunities.
Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship by birth in the country, from the citizenship of their parents, or by naturalization. Although birth registration was widely available in 2015, UNICEF reported that, according to the National Population and Housing Census of 2013, an estimated 65,000 children did not have birth registration documents. The largest numbers of unregistered children were in indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities.
Education: Education is tuition-free, compulsory, and universal through the 12th grade, although high school students had to pay fees.
Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a serious problem. The law establishes prison sentences of up to three years for child abuse.
The Violence Observatory reported the homicides of 326 children as of August. As of July Casa Alianza reported there were no arrests in 80 percent of homicide cases of individuals age 23 and under. While there were some improvements in the overall security situation, there were reports that police committed acts of violence against poor youths.
For additional information, see Appendix C.
Early and Forced Marriage: On July 12, the congress amended the law to raise the minimum legal age of marriage for both boys and girls to 18 with parental consent. It was previously 16 for girls with parental consent. According to government statistics, 10 percent of women married before age 15 and 37 percent before age 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The commercial sexual exploitation of children, especially in sex trafficking, continued to be a problem. The country was a destination for child sex tourism. The legal age of consent is 18. There is no statutory rape law, but the penalty for rape of a minor under age 12 is 15 to 20 years in prison, or nine to 13 years in prison if the victim is age 13 or older. Penalties for facilitating child sex trafficking are 10 to 15 years in prison, with fines ranging from one million to 2.5 million lempiras ($42,400 to $106,000). The law prohibits the use of children under 18 for exhibitions or performances of a sexual nature or in the production of pornography.
Displaced Children: Many children lived on the streets. Casa Alianza estimated 15,000 children were homeless and living on the streets, primarily in major cities. Casa Alianza assisted 596 street children as of August.
One civil society organization reported that common causes of forced displacement for youth included death threats for failure to pay extortion, attempted recruitment by gangs, witnessing criminal activity by gangs or organized crime, domestic violence, attempted kidnappings, family members’ involvement in drug dealing, victimization by traffickers, discrimination based on sexual orientation, sexual harassment, and discrimination for having a chronic illness.
Institutionalized Children: Between January 2015 and September 2016, at least 10 juveniles were killed while in detention in government facilities, nine of them in the Renaciendo juvenile detention center. CONAPREV reported four incidents at Renaciendo as of August, including violence between members of the 18th Street gang and another gang, Los Chirizos, resulting in the deaths of two minors affiliated with Los Chirizos and injuries to 11 other detainees.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The Jewish community, located primarily in San Pedro Sula, numbered several hundred. Leaders of the Jewish community reported frequent expressions of anti-Semitism in political discourse and events, ranging from swastikas spray painted on public buildings to hate speech in political speeches and on social media.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The Public Ministry is responsible for prosecuting violations. The law requires that persons with disabilities have access to buildings, but few buildings were accessible, and the national government did not effectively implement laws or programs to provide such access.
The government had a disabilities unit in the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion.
In the 2013 census, approximately 8.5 percent of the population identified themselves as members of indigenous communities, but other estimates were higher. Indigenous groups included the Miskito, Tawahkas, Pech, Tolupans, Lencas, Maya-Chortis, Nahual, Bay Islanders, and Garifunas. They had limited representation in the national government and consequently little direct input into decisions affecting their lands, cultures, traditions, and the allocation of natural resources.
Indigenous communities continued to report threats and acts of violence against them and against community and environmental activists. Violence was often rooted in a broader context of conflict over land and natural resources, extensive corruption, lack of transparency and community consultation, other criminal activity, and limited state ability to protect the rights of vulnerable communities.
Communal ownership was the norm for most indigenous land, providing land-use rights for individual members of the community. Documents dating to the mid-19th century defined indigenous land titles poorly. Communities complained of lost, stolen, illegally sold, and otherwise contested historical titles. The government continued its efforts to recognize indigenous titles. Lack of clear land titles provoked land use conflicts with nonindigenous agricultural laborers, businesses, and government entities interested in developing lands that indigenous and other ethnic minority communities traditionally occupied or used.
Persons from indigenous and Afro-descendent communities continued to experience discrimination in employment, education, housing, and health services.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law states that sexual orientation and gender identity characteristics merit special protection from discrimination and includes these characteristics in a hate crimes amendment to the penal code. Nevertheless, social discrimination against LGBTI persons was widespread. As of October the special prosecutor for human rights was investigating nine formal complaints of discrimination by LGBTI individuals in previous years. Representatives of NGOs that focused on the right to sexual diversity alleged that the PMOP and other elements of the security forces harassed and abused LGBTI persons. As of August APUVIMEH, an NGO that works with LGBTI persons, reported eight violent deaths of LGBTI persons in the central areas of the country. The UNAH Violence Observatory reported five homicides as of August. NGOs also documented multiple instances of assaults and discrimination against LGBTI persons, leading to forced displacement of some individuals.
LGBTI rights groups asserted that government agencies and private employers engaged in discriminatory hiring practices. LGBTI groups continued working with the VCTF, Ministry of Security, and Office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights to address concerns about intimidation, fear of reprisals, and police corruption. From September 2016 through July 2017, the VCTF made arrests in four cases.
Transgender women were particularly vulnerable to employment and education discrimination; many could find employment only as sex workers, substantially increasing their risk of violence. Transgender individuals noted their inability to get identity documents with their chosen gender.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Access to employment, educational opportunities, and health services continued to be major challenges for persons with HIV/AIDS. The law provides persons with HIV the right to have access to, and remain in, employment and the education system. The law also defines administrative, civil, and criminal liability and penalties for any violation of the law, which includes denial or delay in care for persons with HIV.