Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is a crime punishable by eight to 16 years in prison, and domestic violence is punishable by one to five years in prison. Spousal rape is implicitly covered by the gender-based violence law; penalties range from one to five years’ imprisonment. This 2001 law focuses on increasing protection of victims, strengthening penalties for offenders, and raising awareness about gender-based violence. The law calls for establishing several care centers, with financial and management autonomy, but implementation lagged due to inadequate staffing and financial resources. Violence and discrimination against women remained significant problems.
Rede Sol (a network that connects civil society organizations, the National Police, health centers, hospitals, and community law centers) covered 56 percent of the national territory and had representation on seven islands and in 12 of the 22 municipalities. The Ministry of Justice created “casas do direito” (civil rights houses), which serve as public spaces that provide citizens with access to justice and promote civic participation. In 2015 they received reports of 241 cases of gender-based violence nationwide. As of July, 61 cases were reported to the casas do direito.
The government enforced the law against rape and domestic violence effectively.
Sexual Harassment: The criminal code and the law criminalize sexual harassment. Penalties include up to one year in prison and a fine equal to up to two years of the perpetrator’s salary. Although authorities generally enforced the law, statistics on prosecutions, convictions, and punishments for sexual harassment were not available. There was no data on the number of cases of sexual harassment during the year. Sexual harassment was common and widely accepted in the culture.
Reproductive Rights: The civil code grants all citizens the freedom 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. All citizens had access to contraception. Family planning centers throughout the country distributed some contraceptives freely to the public. These centers provided skilled assistance and counseling, both before and after childbirth and in cases of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Postnatal services included family planning and free oral/injectable contraceptives. No government policies adversely affect emergency health care, including complications arising from abortion.
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. Cultural norms and traditions, however, imposed gender roles that hindered the eradication of gender-based discrimination. Women had less representation in local politics, community associations, and in parliament. In the private sector, women held fewer management and leadership positions and often received lower salaries than men for equal work.
Indicators showed women faring better than men in terms of educational achievement, life expectancy, and access to sexual and reproductive health services. The government enforced the law in providing for the same legal status and rights for women as for men.
Birth Registration: Citizenship can be derived by birth within the country or from one’s parents. The government has a network of services, such as notary and civil identification records offices in all municipalities, and the Birth Registration Project located in hospitals and health centers. Failure to register births did not result in denial of public services. The government attributed the nonregistration of births to uncertainty as to the identity of fathers, parental neglect, and a lack of information on registration in the poorest communities.
Education: The government provided tuition-free and universal education for all children between the ages of six and 12. Education is compulsory until the age of 15. Secondary education was free only to children whose families had an annual income below 147,000 escudos ($1,482).
Child Abuse: Violence against children remained a problem. The government tried to combat it through a national network that included the Cabo Verdean Institute of Childhood and Adolescence (ICCA), various police forces, the Attorney General’s Office, hospitals, and health centers. The government attempted to reduce sexual abuse and violence against children through several programs such as Dial a Complaint, the Children’s Emergency Program, Project Our House, Welcome Centers for Street Children, Project Safe Space, Project Substitute Family, and the creation during 2014 of five ICCA offices.
Data from the Children’s Emergency Program and the Local Social Service programs indicated that during the first six months of the year, there were 126 reported cases of violence and aggression and 72 reported cases of sexual abuse of children. Actual prevalence was higher; not every case was reported because perpetrators were often relatives of the child.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18 years.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law punishes those that foment, promote, or facilitate prostitution or sexual exploitation of children age 16 and under with a penalty of four to 10 years in prison. If the victim is age 17 to 18, the penalty is two to six years in prison, which is inconsistent with international law on trafficking in persons. The law punishes those that induce, transport, or provide housing or create the conditions for sexual exploitation and prostitution of children age 16 and under in a foreign country with a penalty of five to 12 years in prison. If the victim is age 17 to 18, the penalty is two to eight years in prison. The law prohibits the use of children under 18 in pornography, with penalties of up to three years in prison. The minimum age for consensual sex is 14. The law also prohibits pedophilia. During the year there were no reported cases of child pornography, but there were cases of children in prostitution. Sex tourism, at times involving children in prostitution, was a problem, particularly on the tourism-focused islands of Sal and Boa Vista. Sexual abuse was more common in the poorest neighborhoods. Children were exploited in sex trafficking in Santa Maria, Praia, and Mindelo.
New amendments to the penal code, published in November 2015, increase penalties for those who engage in the sexual abuse and exploitation of minors or promote the prostitution of minors. These amendments also strengthen penalties for sexual assault, with imprisonment of two to eight years; sexual abuse of children, with penalties from two to eight years; and sexual abuse of minors between 14 and 16 years old, with penalties from two to eight years. Prison sentences increased for the crimes of pimping and the exploitation of minors for pornographic purposes. The new amendments also focus on crimes related to trafficking in persons, penalizing those who offer, deliver, accept, carry, or accommodate a child or other person for the purpose of sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, or extraction of organs. The amendments mandate several penalties, ranging from one to 12 years in prison for such crimes. Despite the amendments, there were no confirmed cases, prosecutions, or arrests related to trafficking in persons during the year.
The government also continued efforts to prevent the sexual exploitation of children through the creation of a national coordinating committee and the development of a code of ethics for the tourism industry.
Institutionalized Children: During the year there were reports of physical abuse of children in a foster care facility managed by the Reformed Congregation of Seventh-day Adventists in Praia. Eight children who spent time at this orphanage were transferred to ICCA’s Children Emergency Center in Praia. The eight minors, six male and two female, were between ages seven and 17. All children were expected to remain at the ICCA center until an investigation was completed.
International Child Abductions: The country is not 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.
There is a very small Jewish community in the country, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
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 in employment, education, access to health care, the judicial system, or in the provision of other state services. The law does not prohibit discrimination in air travel or other transportation services. The government generally enforced these provisions, with problems remaining in a number of areas. For example, persons with disabilities faced daily obstacles that hindered their integration. Physical accessibility, communication means, and public transport appropriate for persons with disabilities often were lacking. The government worked with civil society organizations to implement programs to provide access for wheelchair users, including building ramps to enhance access to transportation and buildings.
According to the Ministry of Education, Family, Equality, and Inclusion, the ministry had enrolled an estimated 1,200 children and youth with special educational needs in primary, secondary, and higher education through the years. There was no information available regarding abuse of persons with intellectual or mental disabilities in prisons or psychiatric hospitals. Persons with physical disabilities had difficulties in accessing facilities in prisons such as bathrooms and other services. Inmates with mental disabilities did not have access to psychiatric care or specific therapy. The government did not legally restrict the right of persons with physical disabilities to vote or otherwise participate in civic affairs and public life, unless the person was deemed not to have the mental capacity to exercise that right. Persons with intellectual or mental disabilities, as determined by the Ministry of Health, are not allowed to vote, according to the National Commission for Elections. According to the electoral code, blind persons or those with other physical disabilities that are not otherwise accommodated can be escorted by a citizen of their choice to cast their vote.
The government has a quota system for granting scholarships and tax benefits to companies that employ individuals with disabilities. NGOs recognized these measures as partially effective in better integrating these citizens into society but also noted nonenforcement and inadequate regulations continued to be obstacles.
Several NGOs worked to protect the interests of persons with disabilities. A Law on Mobility sets technical standards for accessibility for persons with disabilities for a variety of public facilities and services.
The Ministry of Education, Family, Equality, and Inclusion is the government organization responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The National Council on the Status of Disabled Persons works in partnership with the ministry as a consultative body responsible for proposing, coordinating, and monitoring the implementation of a national policy.
Public television station TCV, through a partnership with the National Commission for Human Rights and Citizenship, Handicap International, and the Cabo Verdean Federation of Associations of People with Disabilities, included in its nightly news a sign-language interpreter for deaf persons able to sign.
The law stipulates a quota of 5 percent of educational scholarships be allocated to persons with disabilities, but this percentage had not been reached.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Antidiscrimination laws exist, and state employers may not discriminate based on sexual orientation. There was no information available on official or private discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals in employment, occupation, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care.
There were no reported incidents of violence against LGBTI persons during the year.
In June the Arco Iris Association, in partnership with the Fundacion Triangulo of Spain, organized the country’s fourth consecutive Cabo Verdean Gay Week (“Mindelo Pride”). The event again occurred in the city of Mindelo, on Sao Vicente Island, to promote equality and respect for sexual diversity. In June a smaller pride week event also took place in Praia, the first time an organized pride event had been held in the capital.
In December 2015 the United Nations launched in Cabo Verde the “Free and Equal” campaign to promote educational programs to shape public attitudes about LGBTI equality and increase awareness about homophobic violence and discrimination.