Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape. Penalties for rape range from five to 15 years’ imprisonment, and the government generally enforced the law when violations were reported. There was no indication of police or judicial reluctance to act. The law criminalizes both physical and psychological domestic violence and protects the privacy and safety of the victim making the charge of rape or domestic violence. Nonetheless, experts believed that many rape and domestic violence cases went unreported due to fear of further violence, retribution, and social stigma. According to the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality, one in three women had suffered some kind of domestic violence.
Family courts handle cases of domestic violence and penalize offenders with fines up to 556,680 pesos ($821). Additional sanctions include eviction of the offender from the residence shared with the survivor, restraining orders, confiscation of firearms, and court-ordered counseling. Cases of habitual psychological abuse and physical abuse cases in which there are physical injuries are prosecuted in the criminal justice system. Penalties are based on the gravity of injuries and range from 61 to 540 days’ imprisonment.
The government continued to campaign against domestic violence, focusing its outreach efforts particularly through social media, and launching a video campaign called “Chile sin Femicidios” (Chile without Femicides), targeted at a male audience and featuring men talking about domestic violence. The Ministry of Women and Gender Equality, through the National Women’s Service (SERNAM), operated women’s centers, which provided legal and mental health support, and women’s shelters. The Ministry of Justice and PDI also operated several offices specifically dedicated to providing counseling and assistance in rape cases. SERNAM maintained partnerships with NGOs to provide training sessions for police officers and judicial and municipal authorities on the legal and psychological aspects of domestic violence. The organization also continued to operate a 24-hour hotline for survivors of violence, including domestic abuse and rape.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is not a criminal offense but is classified as a misdemeanor, with penalties outlined exclusively in the labor code. By law sexual harassment is cause for immediate dismissal from employment. The law requires employers to define internal procedures, or a company policy, for investigating sexual harassment, and employers may face fines and additional financial compensation to victims if it is shown that the company policy on sexual harassment was not followed. The law provides protection to those affected by sexual harassment by employers and coworkers. It also provides severance pay to individuals who resign due to sexual harassment if they have completed at least one year with the employer.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to sexual and reproductive health services and information was limited in remote regions, which especially affected poor women. Emergency contraception is available at pharmacies without a prescription.
Discrimination: Although women possess most of the same legal rights as men, discrimination in employment, pay, owning and managing businesses, and education persisted. The default and most common marital arrangement is “conjugal society,” which provides that a husband has the right to administer joint property, including his wife’s property, without consultation or written permission from his spouse, but a wife must demonstrate that her husband has granted his permission before she is permitted to make financial arrangements. Women married under the conjugal society arrangement were usually required to obtain permission from their husbands to apply for housing subsidies and take out loans or mortgages, while men had unrestricted access to these and other services. Legislation remained pending years after a 2007 agreement with the IACHR to modify the conjugal society law to give women and men equal rights and responsibilities in marriage. The commercial code provides that, unless a woman is married under the separate estate regime or a joint estate regime, she may not enter into a commercial partnership agreement without permission from her husband, while a man may enter into such an agreement without permission from his wife. According to statistics from the civil registry, in 2012 (the most recent year available), 55 percent of couples married in Chile chose to enter into a conjugal society, 42.5 percent of couples chose a separate estate regime, and 2.5 percent chose a joint estate regime.
Despite a law providing for equal pay for equal work, the average woman’s annual income was 32 percent less than that of men, according to the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality. The ministry is in charge of protecting women’s legal rights and is specifically tasked with combatting discrimination against women. Women’s centers throughout the country helped establish equal rights for women by offering services including training, counseling, and legal advice.
A June 3 ceremony launched the new cabinet-level Ministry of Women and Gender Equality.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country’s territory and from one’s parents or grandparents. Births are registered immediately.
Child Abuse: Intrafamily violence, including violence against children, remained a persistent problem. Regional offices of the National Children’s Service (SENAME) organized campaigns throughout the country to combat child abuse and the worst forms of child labor (also see section 7.c.).
The law renders persons convicted of child sexual abuse permanently ineligible for any position, job, career, or profession in educational settings requiring direct and habitual contact with children under age 18. The law also includes a public registry of these sex offenders.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18 (16 with parental consent).
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents was a problem, and children were exploited in prostitution with and without third-party involvement. Law 20507 prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, but internal child sexual exploitation cases were often prosecuted under a different law, Article 367 of the penal code, which provides lesser penalties. Many convicted traffickers were released on parole or given suspended sentences, as permitted under sentencing guidelines for convictions with penalties of less than five years’ imprisonment. The range increases from five years and a day to 20 years and a fine of 31 to 35 UTM ($2,108 to $2,380) in cases where exploitation is habitual, or if there was deceit or abuse of authority or trust. (The monthly tax unit, or UTM, is a legally defined currency unit, indexed to inflation, equivalent to $68.)
Heterosexual sexual conduct with youths between ages 14 and 18 may be considered statutory rape depending on the circumstances; sex with a child under age 14 is considered rape, regardless of consent or the victim’s gender. Penalties for statutory rape range from five to 20 years in prison. Child pornography is a crime. Penalties for producing child pornography range from 541 days to five years in prison.
Institutionalized Children: On September 13, the judicial branch published a report highlighting deficiencies, including overcrowding and chronic shortages of trained personnel, in institutions controlled by the country’s child services organization, SENAME.
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 numbered approximately 20,500. Jewish community leaders reported concern over the tone of social media postings which they perceived as threatening, although the commentary primarily referenced frustration with policies of the State of Israel and did not specifically mention either the Jewish people or Chilean Jews.
On August 18, the Palestinian Federation of Chile (FPDC) published on its Facebook site a cartoon depicting a figure smoking a missile cigar and sitting on a Star of David, the bottom point of which is sticking into the back of a dead Palestinian baby, as part of an article protesting the policies of the State of Israel. Following the September 28 death of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, the FPDC labeled him a “war criminal” on its official Twitter account.
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, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, and the provision of other state services, and the government mostly enforced these provisions. Nevertheless, persons with disabilities suffered forms of de facto discrimination (also see section 7.d.). The law provides for universal and equal access to buildings, information, and communications. Most public buildings did not comply with legal accessibility mandates. The public transportation system, particularly outside Santiago, did not adequately provide accessibility for persons with disabilities. In recent years, however, TranSantiago, the main system of public transportation within Santiago, instituted changes to improve compliance with the law, including new ramp systems and elevators at certain metro stations as well as improved access to some buses. Nevertheless, many metro stations and most buses remained inaccessible to persons with physical disabilities.
The National Service for the Disabled (SENADIS) reported that children with disabilities attended school (primary and secondary) but noted difficulties in ensuring equal access to schooling at private institutions. SENADIS also reported that persons with disabilities had fewer opportunities to continue their education beyond secondary school.
SENADIS, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Planning, has responsibility for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, and advocates and promotes integration and protection policies throughout all government agencies.
Equal treatment and nondiscrimination are explicitly protected in the constitution, and the labor code specifically prohibits discrimination. According to the Third National Survey of Human Rights, published by the INDH in 2015, 61 percent of the surveyed population believed that people were discriminated against due to the color of their skin.
Indigenous people have the right to participate in decisions affecting their lands, cultures, and traditions, including the exploitation of energy, minerals, timber, or other natural resources on indigenous lands. The Citizen’s Observatory reported, however, that indigenous people encountered serious obstacles to exercising these civil and political rights. Indigenous people experienced societal discrimination, including in employment (also see section 7.d.), and there were reports of incidents in which they were attacked and harassed. Indigenous women faced discrimination based on their gender, indigenous background, and reduced economic status, and they were especially vulnerable to violence, poverty, and illness. Statistics as to whether or not indigenous people faced rates of violence different from the general population were not available. The constitution does not specifically protect indigenous groups.
Protests by indigenous groups over land rights continued throughout the year, particularly in the Araucania region, one of the poorest regions and where one-third of the population self-identifies as belonging to the Mapuche indigenous group. (Of the indigenous population, 80 percent belong to the Mapuche people.) Protests over land rights sometimes included violent acts, such as the destruction of trucks and farm equipment and arson attacks on homes and farm structures. Between January and June, the press reported that 18 rural churches in primarily Mapuche indigenous communities had been burned down by arsonists; some of the incidents were attributed to other Mapuche groups calling for land restitution.
There were numerous reports of police abuse against Mapuche individuals and communities, including against children. The INDH brought petitions to protect the constitutional rights of Mapuche individuals, including children and adolescents, in cases of excessive use of force by security forces. In addition the NGO Citizens’ Observatory reported police searched Mapuche homes without warrants, arrested and released Mapuche individuals without detention control hearings (where individuals go before a judge to hear the charges against them to ensure their rights were protected and to decide if they should be held longer or released), and used intimidation and discriminatory statements against Mapuche individuals, including minors.
On March 13 the Supreme Court confirmed a Temuco Appellate Court ruling accepting an INDH petition to protect seven children, ages six months to nine years old, from the community of Rankilko who were subject to violence in November 2015 when they and their parents were forcibly removed by law enforcement from land that they had trespassed on and claimed as their own through squatter’s rights, or adverse possession through occupation. The ruling ordered the police to act within constitutional norms and respect the fundamental rights of the children; it also ordered them to open an internal investigation into the case.
In June the international NGO Center for Justice and International Law together with the local NGOs the Anide Foundation and the Mapuche Territorial Alliance published a report on the impact on children and adolescents of the repeated excessive use of force by security forces in two Mapuche communities in the Araucania region. The report concluded that, despite protective actions and judicial rulings limiting police use of force, excessive use of force by security forces continued to affect children negatively.
The exploitation of energy, minerals, and timber occurred near indigenous communities, including mining projects in the north–where Aymara, Atacameno, Quechua, Colla, and Diaguita indigenous populations live–and timber exploitation in the south, where the Mapuche live. Indigenous lands are demarcated, but some indigenous Mapuche communities demanded restitution of privately and publicly owned traditional lands. Indigenous communities took legal action against mining projects in the north due to their potential contamination of the water supply and environment as well as the impact of demands for water in desert environments on subsistence agriculture. Indigenous populations also expressed concern that timber plantations in the south could negatively affect the water table due to the introduction of nonnative species and the potential contamination of coastal areas from pulp production.
The Law on Indigenous Peoples’ Protection and Development recognizes nine indigenous groups present in the country and creates an administrative structure to provide specialized programs and services to promote economic, social, and cultural development of these peoples.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law sets the age of consent at 18 for homosexual sexual activity; heterosexual activity is permitted, under some circumstances, at age 14. Antidiscrimination laws exist and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In February the NGO Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH) released its annual report, and noted that it tracked 258 cases of discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity during 2015.
Violence against LGBTI individuals continued. According to MOVILH, in 2015 three persons were killed and 45 were physically assaulted in homophobic attacks.
Law enforcement authorities appeared reluctant to use the full recourse of a 2012 antidiscrimination law, including charging assailants of LGBTI victims with a hate crime, which would elevate criminal penalties as permitted under the law.
Laws prevent transgender persons from changing gender markers on government-issued identity documents, including national identity cards and university diplomas, to match their outward appearance or chosen expression.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
The law prohibits discrimination against persons based on their HIV status and provides that neither public nor private health institutions may deny access to health-care services on the basis of a person’s serological status. As the majority of citizens with HIV and AIDS are men, NGOs reported that government-sponsored outreach campaigns were oriented to a male audience, particularly men who have sex with men. NGO reports noted that women faced obstacles to preventing HIV infection due to a lack of awareness surrounding transmission, understanding of access to public health services, and a limited ability to use protective measures such as condoms with their partners. Some NGOs indicated that the rate of virus transmission may have increased among women and in indigenous communities, and they actively encouraged members of these groups to overcome social stigma and get tested. During the year President Bachelet committed the government to ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV, in part by ensuring access to antiretroviral treatment for pregnant women.