Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape; it does not distinguish between rapes of women and men. 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 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.
On January 15, the interior minister enacted an action plan to combat hate crimes and discrimination and to protect vulnerable groups from abuse based on, inter alia, gender. The plan provided for increased training for security forces to identify hate crimes; digital tools to identify and counteract hate speech on social media; an increase in coordinating efforts with human rights NGOs; increasing attention for victims of hate crimes; and amplifying the legal response to these incidents. The National Office Against Hate Crimes is responsible for coordinating and assisting responses among the ministry and security forces.
In January the Supreme Court adopted an agreement that establishes doctrine and updates criteria to identify gender-based violence. The agreement removed the requirement to establish “the intent to dominate” in cases of rape and domestic violence, stating that “the mere act of aggression by a man against a woman who is his partner or former partner already constitutes an act of gender-based violence.”
On August 21, the Ministry of the Interior reported a 0.3-percent decrease in the number of reported rapes during the first three months of the year. The Ministry of the Presidency, Relations with the Parliament and Equality reported that, as of March 31, there were 6,961 persons imprisoned for crimes related to gender-based violence.
On June 21, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision from 2018 and declared guilty of rape five men who gang raped an 18-year-old woman in Pamplona in 2016. The lower court originally found the defendants, Jose Angel Prenda, Alfonso Jesus Cabazuelo, Jesus Escudero, Angel Boza, and Antonio Manuel Guerrero, who called themselves “the Wolfpack,” guilty of the lesser crime of sexual abuse. Under the updated Supreme Court sentence, each defendant will serve 15 years in prison.
On October 31, the provincial court of Barcelona sentenced five men to 10-12 years in prison for committing sexual abuse on a teenage victim in Manresa in 2016. The court ruled that, as the victim was in an “unconscious state” and did not struggle, charges of sexual assault could not be used since the men did not use violence or intimidation. The Barcelona prosecutor has appealed the verdict to a higher court in order to get defendants sentenced for sexual aggression.
According to the government’s delegate for gender violence, as of August 19 partners or former partners were responsible for the deaths of 40 women. According to the General Council of the Judiciary, 21,217 cases of gender-based violence were prosecuted in 2018. The Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence reported 166,961 complaints of gender-based violence in 2018. There were 40,319 allegations of gender-based violence in the first quarter of the year. Independent media and government agencies generally paid close attention to gender-based violence.
In January an attorney in Zaragoza was killed by her partner, who was on probation after serving 14 years in prison for murdering his wife. The victim had been her partner’s defense attorney before entering into a relationship. The partner committed suicide after the killing.
A 24-hour toll-free national hotline advised battered women on finding shelter and other local assistance. Police also alerted female victims of gender-based violence of any changes in prison sentences of their attackers.
In September 2017 congress approved the State Plan against Gender Violence, with a budget of one billion euros ($1.1 billion) over five years, to support efforts to counter the problem. On August 9, the government approved an additional 20 million euros ($22 million) to municipalities to fight gender violence until June 30, 2020, under the framework of plan. It also allocated more than 5.26 million euros ($5.77 million) to institutional campaigns to combat gender-based violence, trafficking, and childhood sexual abuse within the existing framework of the plan.
In 2018 Catalonia only accepted 48 percent of victims’ requests for protective measures, such as restraining orders, for victims of gender violence. In February the Catalan regional government established the Catalan Observatory for Gender Violence Justice to analyze the judicial responses and the current protocol for handling cases of violence against women. It focuses on prevention, attention, and treatment of victims of domestic violence. In July the Catalan regional government also approved the Strategic Plan for Gender Equality Policies 2019-2022, aimed at improving the early detection of cases of gender violence and improve the assistance received by women and their children.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C and authorizes courts to prosecute residents of the country who committed this crime in the country or anywhere in the world. Doctors must ask parents residing in the country who originate from countries that practice FGM/C 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 must examine the girl(s) again and may start legal action against the parents if examination finds that the minors underwent FGM/C during their trip.
The State Plan against Gender Violence includes FGM/C as a form of gender-based violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, but few cases came to trial. The punishment in minor cases may be between three and five months in jail or fines of six to eight months’ salary. Harassment continued to be a problem, according to media reporting.
Coercion in Population Control: The law allows persons with disabilities to be sterilized after being legally declared incapacitated by a judge and without the requirement to be informed (in cases where consent is at question) of the procedure.
Discrimination: Under the law women enjoy the same rights as men. The government generally enforced the law effectively.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents. All children born in the country, except children of diplomats and children whose parents’ country of origin gives them nationality, are registered as citizens. When a child does not acquire the parents’ nationality, the government may grant it.
Child Abuse: The law provides protections for various forms of child abuse. Those accused of sexual abuses involving minors receive larger penalties. For example, in cases of sexual abuse, instead of one to four years of imprisonment, the penalty increases to four to 10 years when the victim is a child. Cases of sexual aggression, which normally receive six to 12 years in jail, are punished with 12 to 15 years in cases involving minors.
As of May 31, either a parent or a parent’s partner killed one minor.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age of marriage is 16 years for minors’ living on their own. Underage marriage is not uncommon in the Romani community.
In 2018 Catalan police assisted 14 victims of forced marriage, four of whom were minors.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law criminalizes the “abuse and sexual attack of minors” younger than age 13 and sets the penalty at imprisonment from two to 15 years, depending on the nature of the crime. Individuals who contact children younger than age 13 through the internet for the purpose of sexual exploitation face imprisonment for one to three years. Authorities enforced the law.
The minimum age for consensual sex in the country is 16. The law defines sexual acts committed against persons younger than age 16 as nonconsensual sexual abuse and provides for sentences from two to 15 years in prison, depending on the circumstances.
The penalty for recruiting children or persons with disabilities into prostitution is imprisonment from one to five years. The penalty for subjecting children to prostitution is imprisonment from four to six years.
The commercial sexual exploitation of trafficked teenage girls remained a problem (see also the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/).
The law prohibits using a minor “to prepare any type of pornographic material” as well as producing, selling, distributing, displaying, or facilitating the production, sale, dissemination, or exhibition of “any type” of child pornography by “any means.” The penalty is one to five years’ imprisonment; if the child is younger than age of 13, the length of imprisonment is five to nine years. The law also penalizes knowingly possessing child pornography.
There is a registry for sex offenders to bar them from activities in which they could be in the presence of minors.
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 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.
The Jewish community numbered approximately 40,000-45,000 persons. The law that provided descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from the country 500 years ago right of return as full Spanish citizens expired at the end of September, with more than 100,000 petitions received since 2015 and nearly 50,000 new cases in the last month alone. By the end of the year, the Ministry of Justice processed 26,290 cases from more than 60 countries, with Venezuelans (6,601) representing the largest block of applicants.
The law considers denial and justification of genocide to be a crime if it incites violence, with penalties that range from one to four years in prison.
The Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience reported that during 2018 there were six instances of religiously motivated aggression targeting Jews (one case of destruction of property, five cases of verbal abuse).
According to Jewish community leaders and the NGO Movement against Intolerance, anti-Semitic incidents included graffiti on Jewish institutions. In February a monument to the victims of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Almeria was defaced with graffiti that said “Jewish-free Almeria.” In September the door of a synagogue of the Israelite Community of Barcelona was painted with graffiti saying, “free Palestine.”
In April fans of soccer club RCD Espanyol displayed images of Anne Frank wearing club rival FC Barcelona’s jersey. After the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain asked RCD Espanyol to condemn the act, club officials denounced the incident and the regional police opened an investigation.
Government institutions promoted religious pluralism, integration, and understanding of Jewish communities and history, but their efforts did not reach all of the country’s autonomous regions.
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
The law prohibits, with fines of up to one million euros ($1.1 million), discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government generally enforced these provisions effectively.
The law requires private companies with more than 50 employees to hire persons with disabilities for at least 2 percent of their jobs. In 2016 the consultancy Leialta estimated that 81 percent of the companies did not comply with the obligation.
The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities. While the government generally enforced these provisions, levels of assistance and accessibility varied among regions. On June 12, the Spanish Confederation of Persons with Physical and Organic Disabilities reported that 1.8 million persons with disabilities required the assistance of third persons to enter and leave their residences and 100,000 persons with disabilities could not leave their residences at all.
A report in May by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reiterated the need for the country fully to abolish the forced sterilization, medical treatment, and research on persons with disabilities without their consent. The committee expressed its concern that a high number of children with disabilities received segregated special education.
On January 15, the interior minister enacted an action plan to combat hate crimes and discrimination and to protect vulnerable groups from abuse based, inter alia, on intellectual and physical disabilities.
In its report published in February 2018, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) noted serious underreporting of hate crimes. The interior minister’s action plan enacted on January 15 to combat hate crimes and discrimination and to protect vulnerable groups from abuse based, inter alia, on national origin and ethnicity included increased training for security forces to identify hate crimes; digital tools to identify and counteract hate speech on social media; an increase in coordinating efforts with human rights NGOs; increasing attention for victims of hate crimes; and amplifying the legal response to these incidents.
The Ministry of the Interior reported 524 hate crimes linked to racism (36.9 percent) in 2017, the most recent year for which data were available, an increase of 26.8 percent from 2016. The regions of Melilla, Catalonia, and the Basque Country, had the highest numbers of hate crimes according to the ministry’s data.
Roma are subject to strong societal prejudice. In February 2018 ECRI reported that 55 percent of Romani children do not finish junior high school equivalent compulsory secondary school, a percentage that was increased to 64 percent by Isidro Rodriguez, president of the main Roma-focused NGO in Spain, “Fundacion Secretariado Gitano (FSG).” After the April 28 national elections, Romani representation in the national congress went from two representatives in the previous legislature to four, in four different political parties. The FSG registered 232 cases of discrimination against Roma in 2017, 30 more than in 2016.
On August 9, the government published the names of 4,427 Spaniards who died in the concentration camps of Mauthausen and Gusen, between 1940 and 1945. Some historians claimed that there are nearly 700 additional victims, whose death certificates were hidden by the Franco regime to prevent their families from asking for compensation. An estimated 9,000 Spaniards, mostly political prisoners and captured foreign fighters, passed through Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The government established May 5 as the day of tribute to Spanish deportees who died in concentration camps and for all Spanish victims of Nazism.
The country’s antidiscrimination laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the government enforced the law. The law penalizes those who provoke discrimination, hate, or violence based on sexual orientation with up to three years’ imprisonment. The law also prohibits denial or disqualification of employment based on sexual orientation and the formation of associations that promote discrimination, hate, or violence against others based on their sexual orientation. The law may consider hatred against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons an aggravating circumstance in crimes.
The number of homophobic attacks rose in Catalonia. The Observatory against Homophobia of Catalonia reported 81 incidents as of July 1, compared with 56 in the same timeframe in 2018. A new LGTBI resource center was vandalized with painted homophobic slurs and broken windows barely one week after its inauguration in January.
The SPT found that Moroccan gays were in situations of “extreme vulnerability, discrimination, and psychological fragility” in the migrant detention center in Melilla. Societal pressures force most Romani LGBTI persons to remain in the closet.
The interior minister’s action plan enacted on January 15 to combat hate crimes and discrimination and to protect vulnerable groups from abuse based, inter alia, on sexual identity included increased training for security forces to identify hate crimes; digital tools to identify and counteract hate speech on social media; an increase in coordinating efforts with human rights NGOs; increasing attention for victims of hate crimes; and amplifying the legal response to these incidents.
In May an internal letter in the Office of the General Prosecutor instructed on interpreting hate crimes. According to the letter, an assault on a person of Nazi ideology, or an incitement to hatred towards such a group, may be included among hate crimes.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, 1,419 hate crimes were reported in 2017, the latest year for which data were available, an 11.6-percent increase from 2016. Of these, 276 cases involved physical injuries and 253 involved threats.
The NGO Movement against Intolerance estimated that 80 percent of hate crimes in the country were unreported. The NGO’s 2018 report analyzed more than 600 incidents of hate crimes and identified factors such as social media and internet “hate speech,” rising xenophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the lack of a general legislation or strategy to counter hate crimes as the principal causes of the increase in such activities.
According to a report from the Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience, in 2018 there were 200 instances of religiously motivated violence, compared with 166 in 2017.
The interior minister’s action plan enacted on January 15 to combat hate crimes and discrimination and to protect vulnerable groups from abuse based, inter alia, on religious ideology and socioeconomic status included increased training for security forces to identify hate crimes; digital tools to identify and counteract hate speech on social media; an increase in coordinating efforts with human rights NGOs; increasing attention for victims of hate crimes; and amplifying the legal response to these incidents.