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.
Birth Registration: The government provides universal birth registration, and citizenship is derived both by birth within the country’s territory and from one’s parents. Parents have 40 days to register births, and the state has an additional 20 days to do so. The Ministry of Interior and Transportation may issue birth certificates to children under the age of 12 whose births were not previously registered.
Child Abuse: Child abuse was common; the Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence reported that 30 percent of the complaints it received involved children. On November 19, in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund, the government started the first national campaign against child abuse. In addition to a publicity campaign on television and radio to raise awareness for the incidence of child sexual abuse and mistreatment of children, the government launched a 24/7 hotline staffed by professional child psychologists for free consultations and advice.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage for men and women is 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Sexual exploitation of children, including in prostitution, was a problem. The minimum age of consensual sex is 13, but there are heightened protections for persons ages 13 to 16. There is a statutory rape law with penalties ranging from six months to 20 years in prison, depending on the age of the victim and other factors. In addition, if a judge finds evidence of deception, violence, threats, abuse of authority, or any other form of intimidation or coercion resulting in sexual intercourse, the minimum sentence increases to six years, regardless of age.
Several prominent cases of child sexual abuse were reported during the year. In September a local journalism forum reported widespread trafficking of disadvantaged Bolivian children. According to the report, international criminal networks lured children across the Argentina-Bolivia border with the promise of well-paying jobs. These networks then sold most of the children for 4,620 pesos ($300) to prostitution rings, exploitative industries, or workshops.
The law prohibits the production and distribution of child pornography, with penalties ranging from six months to four years in prison. While the law does not prohibit the possession of child pornography by individuals for personal use, it provides penalties ranging from four months to two years in prison for possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute it. The law also provides penalties ranging from one month to three years in prison for facilitating access to pornographic shows or materials for minors under the age of 14.
During the year prosecutors from the nationwide “Point of Contact Network against Child Pornography on the Internet” aggressively pursued cases of internet child pornography. From January through September, the Network received 617 reports in Buenos Aires Province and initiated 424 preliminary criminal investigations, 73 of which were unsubstantiated. The remaining cases were under investigation at year’s end. The conviction rate was reportedly low due to the difficulty in proving distribution and production. While lengthy judicial processing and bureaucratic inefficiencies occurred, the Network reported national level improvements in the ability to punish offenders.
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 consists of approximately 250,000 persons. Sporadic acts of anti-Semitic discrimination and vandalism continued. The Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations received complaints of anti-Semitism during the year.
The most commonly reported anti-Semitic incidents were slurs posted on various websites, graffiti, verbal slurs, and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.
On July 5, unidentified individuals threw a plastic bottle filled with cement through the window of the Maccabi Jewish community center in Santa Fe Province. A note attached to the bottle read, “This is a warning, the next one will explode.” The note contained the logo of the Islamic State and the Arabic expression “Allahu Akbar (God is great).”
On August 25, students from the Lanus Oeste German School of Buenos Aires engaged in a fistfight with Jewish students from the ORT School of Buenos Aires while both groups were at a nightclub in the resort city of Bariloche. Some of the students from the German school, who deliberately provoked the brawl, wore Hitler mustaches and leather jackets with swastikas painted on them. The director of the German school apologized for the incident, disciplined the school’s students, and compelled them to visit the Buenos Aires Holocaust Museum together with the Jewish students.
The investigation continued into the 1994 bombing of the Argentina Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 persons. Interpol maintained Red Notices on five Iranians, one Lebanese, and one Colombian suspected in the bombing.
The investigation into the death of Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor in charge of the AMIA bombing investigation, continued without conclusion as to the motive for his death. In January 2015 Nisman was found dead in his apartment from a gunshot wound to the head. Nisman was scheduled to testify the next day before a congressional committee concerning his allegations that then president Kirchner and associates conspired to convey impunity to the Iranians suspected of planning and executing the AMIA bombing.
Hearings in the AMIA bombing cover-up trial, which accuses government and law enforcement officials and a leader of the country’s Jewish community of complicity and false testimony to cover up the 1994 AMIA bombing, continued during the year.
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 constitution and laws prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, or the provision of other state services. A specific law also mandates access to buildings by persons with disabilities. According to media reports, the ombudsman of the city of Buenos Aires reported that only 33 percent of the metropolitan subway stations had elevators or escalators, and only 29 percent of the stations were equipped with bathrooms for persons with disabilities.
While the federal government has protective laws, many provinces had not adopted such laws and had no mechanisms to ensure enforcement. An employment quota law reserves 4 percent of federal government jobs for persons with disabilities, but NGOs and advocacy groups claimed the level of disability employment achieved during the year was less than 1 per cent.
A pattern of inadequate facilities and poor conditions continued in some mental institutions.
The National Advisory Committee for the Integration of People with Disabilities under the National Council for Coordination of Social Policies has formal responsibility for actions to accommodate persons with disabilities.
The constitution recognizes the ethnic and cultural identities of indigenous people and states that congress shall protect their right to bilingual education, recognize their communities and the communal ownership of their ancestral lands, and allow for their participation in the management of their natural resources. Although there is no formal process to recognize indigenous tribes or determine who is an indigenous person, indigenous communities can register with the provincial or federal government as civic associations.
Indigenous people did not fully participate in the management of their lands or natural resources, in part because responsibility for implementing the law is delegated to the 24 provinces, only 11 of which have constitutions recognizing indigenous rights. The NGO International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs reported that implementation of land awards was slow and unpredictable and that bureaucracy, insufficient funding, and opposition by landowners or businesses delayed the process. In 2006 the National Institute for Indigenous Affairs, which awards land rights to indigenous communities and offers indigenous persons constitutional protection and full citizenship rights, began conducting the Territorial Survey Program for Indigenous Communities as part of the land titling process. While the institute initially had four years to conclude the surveying and demarcation, a 2010 law extended the process to 2017.
According to a May 23 press statement of the UN special rapporteur on racism, discrimination, and xenophobia, indigenous people generally lived in extreme poverty, isolation from others, and without access to basic services such as drinkable water, adequate housing, quality health care, employment opportunities, or appropriate and quality education.
Indigenous persons seeking access to justice faced additional unique challenges, including linguistic, cultural, and economic barriers. Most lived in far-flung reaches of the country and must travel considerable distances to access courts. Many provincial courts were unaware of national and international law concerning indigenous peoples’ rights to land and natural resources.
Indigenous peoples had lower levels of economic and social development and higher rates of illiteracy than nonindigenous sectors. Poverty rates were higher than average in areas with large indigenous populations. Indigenous people had greater than average rates of illiteracy, chronic disease, and unemployment. Indigenous women faced further discrimination based on gender and reduced economic status. The lack of trained teachers hampered government efforts to offer bilingual education opportunities to indigenous people.
Indigenous peoples continued to lack adequate participation in decisions affecting their ancestral lands. Projects carried out by the agricultural and extractive industries displaced individuals, limited their access to traditional means of livelihood, reduced the area of lands on which they depended, and caused pollution that in some cases endangered the health and welfare of indigenous communities.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons generally enjoyed the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual persons. No laws criminalize consensual same-sex conduct between adults. LGBTI persons could serve openly in the military.
The law gives transgender persons the right legally to change their gender and name on identity documents without prior approval from a doctor or judge. It also requires public and private health-care plans to cover some parts of hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, although the Ministry of Health did not effectively enforce this requirement. In September, Congress enacted legislation prohibiting exclusion of blood donors based upon sexual orientation.
National antidiscrimination laws do not specifically include the terms “sexual orientation or gender identity” as protected grounds, only “sex.” There was no official discrimination, however, based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care. Overt societal discrimination generally was uncommon, but media and NGOs reported cases of discrimination, violence, and police brutality toward the LGBTI community, especially transgender persons.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
There were no known reports of societal violence against persons with HIV/AIDS, but there were occasional reports of discrimination against persons with the disease. According to a private study and survey of stigma and discrimination encountered by persons with HIV/AIDS, 18 percent of those surveyed perceived they had suffered discrimination as a result of their medical condition, primarily from medical providers.