Rape and Domestic Violence: The criminal code outlaws sexual intercourse through physical violence (or threat of violence) and provides for sentences of 15 to 25 years’ imprisonment or death, depending on the circumstances. (Although the death penalty exists in the criminal code, it has been abolished in practice.) No law prohibits spousal rape, which authorities do not commonly recognize or prosecute.
NGOs noted that many rapes were not reported and stated that cultural norms, as well as stressful police and judicial procedures, tended to discourage reporting.
Domestic violence remained a serious and widespread problem. In the first seven months of the year, the NGO National Center against Violence (NCAV) registered 1,130 reports of domestic violence, including 695 injuries and six deaths. In approximately the same period, NCAV provided services, including shelter, to more than 840 persons. The Ulaanbaatar Metropolitan Police Department’s Prevention of Domestic Violence and Crimes against Children Division reported a 27.4 percent increase in domestic violence crimes in the first seven months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. NCAV attributed the increase to greater public awareness and worsening economic conditions. NCAV also reported an increase in the number of police officers requesting information and a drop in complaints that police had refused to respond to domestic violence calls, which it also attributed to growing government and public awareness of the problem. NCAV stated that the introduction of specialized units had increased police engagement on the issue and commitment to follow cases to completion. Combating domestic violence is included in the accredited training curriculum of the Law Enforcement Academy and in all police officers’ position descriptions. Observers credited vigorous campaigning by NGOs and government entities with bringing domestic violence into the public discourse and elevating government efforts to combat it.
Because there are no specific criminal law provisions on domestic violence, prosecutors pursue criminal charges under other provisions of the criminal code (such as assault, battery, infliction of injury, disorderly conduct, and hooliganism). Civil law provides a measure of protection for victims of domestic abuse, including through restraining orders, but a number of procedural and other barriers make these difficult to obtain and enforce. The law requires police who receive reports of domestic violence to accept and file complaints, visit the site of incidents, interrogate offenders and witnesses, enforce administrative penalties, and take victims to a refuge. It also provides for sanctions against offenders, including expulsion from the home, prohibitions on the use of joint property, prohibitions on meeting victims and on access to minors, and compulsory training aimed at behavior modification. Domestic violence cannot be reported anonymously, which may dissuade individuals from reporting it.
Authorities sometimes detained alleged perpetrators of domestic violence on administrative rather than criminal charges. Those detained under administrative charges were typically fined MNT 15,000 ($7) and released after a maximum detention of 72 hours. The determination of whether to charge alleged perpetrators with administrative or criminal offenses depended on the severity of physical injury inflicted on the victim.
According to NCAV, there were seven shelters (two in Ulaanbaatar) and six one-stop service centers (three in Ulaanbaatar) run by a variety of NGOs, local government agencies, and hospitals. The Ulaanbaatar Metropolitan Police Department’s Prevention of Domestic Violence and Crimes against Children Division included a police-run shelter for victims of domestic violence. The shelter staff received Ministry of Justice-funded training from NCAV staff during the year.
The one-stop service centers, located primarily at hospitals, provided emergency shelter to victims for up to 72 hours. Victims in need of longer-term accommodations were transferred to shelters. The small number of shelters, particularly in rural areas, presented a challenge for domestic violence victims seeking assistance. NCAV reported that only the police-run shelter received direct government funding in 2015 or 2016. The government continued to direct victims to NCAV and other NGOs.
Sexual Harassment: The law charges employers with taking steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, including by establishing internal rules about sexual harassment and the redress of complaints, but provides no penalties (see section 7.d.). Although the law provides that victims of sexual harassment may file complaints with the NHRC, such complaints were rare; however, the NHRC reported a slight increase in complaints compared to previous years. NGOs stated there was a lack of awareness and consensus within society of what constituted inappropriate behavior, making it difficult to gauge the extent of the problem. The NHRC reported poor knowledge of the law’s sexual harassment provisions among both employers and employees.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals 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. A local NGO that supports teenage mothers reported that social stigma and poor knowledge of reproductive health impeded young women’s access to prenatal care. Reproductive health information was widely available, although it was rarely available in a format accessible to persons with disabilities. According to the Mongolian National Federation of Wheelchair Users, it was virtually impossible for women in wheelchairs to go to the hospital for prenatal checks, both because of a lack of physical access and negative attitudes.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights to women and men, including equal pay for equal work and equal access to education. These rights were generally observed, although women faced discrimination in employment (see section 7.d.).
The law sets mandatory quotas for the inclusion of women in the government and political parties. It also outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex, appearance, or age.
Divorced women secured alimony payments under the family law, which details rights and responsibilities regarding alimony and parenting. The former husband and wife evenly divide property and assets acquired during their marriage. In most cases, the divorced wife retained custody of any children; divorced husbands often failed to pay child support and did so without penalty. Women’s activists said that because family businesses were usually registered under the husband’s name, ownership continued to be transferred automatically to the former husband in divorce cases.
No separate government agency oversees women’s rights, but the Working Group on Gender Equality under the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection coordinates policy and women’s interests among ministries, NGOs, and gender councils at the provincial and local levels. In parliament a Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture, and Science focused on gender matters.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents, and births were generally registered immediately, although this was not always the case for residents of rural areas. Failure to register can result in the denial of public services and inability to access child welfare benefits in the form of fixed monthly cash distributions. This particularly affected citizens moving from rural to urban areas, who sometimes experienced difficulties registering in their new locations.
Child Abuse: Child abuse was a significant problem and consisted principally of domestic violence and sexual abuse, according to the government’s Family, Child, and Youth Development Authority (FCYDA) and various NGOs. A 2015 study by the Capital Child and Family Development Center estimated that one in 10 children between the ages of 11 and 17 was sexually abused. The NHRC reported that domestic violence against children often was unreported because children were either afraid or unable to report to relevant authorities. The FCYDA and the Ulaanbaatar Metropolitan Police Department reported that they received increased reports of both domestic violence and sexual abuse of children, which they attributed to growing public awareness of the problems and an FCYDA-maintained child hotline, which received reports of child abuse and referred them to the police or relevant agency.
Child abandonment was also a problem. Some children were orphaned or ran away from home as a result of poverty-related neglect or parental abuse, often committed under the influence of alcohol. Police officials stated that children of abusive parents were sent to shelters, but some observers indicated that many youths were returned to abusive parents.
In addition to four officers in the Ulaanbaatar Metropolitan Police Department’s Prevention of Domestic Violence and Crimes against Children Division and two officers assigned to the NPA, each province and Ulaanbaatar’s 17 district police offices had a specialized police officer appointed to investigate crimes against, or committed by, juveniles. In central districts of Ulaanbaatar, local patrol officers had day-to-day responsibility for juvenile problems.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18, with court-approved exceptions for minors aged 16-18 who also obtain the consent of parents or guardians. There were no reports of underage marriages.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Although against the law, the commercial sexual exploitation of children less than 18 years old was a problem. According to NGOs, there were instances in which teenage girls were kidnapped, coerced, or deceived and forced to work in prostitution. Sex tourism from South Korea and Japan reportedly remained a problem. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16. Violators of the statutory rape (defined as sexual intercourse with a person under 16 not involving physical violence or the threat of violence) law are subject to a penalty of up to three years in prison. The law prohibits the production, sale, or display of all pornography and carries a penalty of up to three months in prison. NGOs stated that online child pornography was relatively common. There was no specialized agency responsible for child pornography or sex advertisements on the internet. Although police took steps to improve their capacity to investigate crimes on the internet, including establishing a cybercrime division that handles pornography, sexual extortion, and the sexual exploitation of children, their technical expertise remained limited.
Institutionalized Children: According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Sports (MECSS), 40,000 to 50,000 children lived in 500-plus boarding schools away from their parents for most of the year. These schools are located primarily in provincial centers to serve students whose families are nomadic or live in rural areas. Some schools housed children in overcrowded dormitories, and many did not have adequate medical facilities. Government officials, NGOs, and international organizations expressed concerns about child abuse in the dormitories and building safety. MECSS provided information about the FCYDA child hotline to parents of children and to teachers in boarding schools. The FCYDA required all boarding schools to develop child protection policies by the end of 2016.
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.
The Jewish population was very small, 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 defines disabilities as restrictions due to permanent impairment of the body or intellectual, mental, or sensory capacities. Legal prohibitions against discrimination in employment against persons with disabilities are limited (see section 7.d.).
There is no explicit prohibition of discrimination in education; the law charges the government with creating conditions to ensure students with disabilities receive an education. Students with disabilities are by law allowed to attend mainstream schools, although there are also specialized schools in Ulaanbaatar. Nevertheless, children with disabilities faced significant barriers to education. The UN Development Program reported in June that only 66 percent of school-age people with disabilities were enrolled in school. According to NGOs, there was no common understanding of what constituted a disability, and partly as a result, schools frequently failed to identify mental and developmental disabilities. Schools lacked teachers trained to work with children with disabilities, especially, parents’ organizations noted, autism or Down syndrome. Further, the NHRC reported inadequate textbooks and other training materials; some teachers used lower-level textbooks designed for mainstream schools or developed their own materials. The NHRC stated that most mainstream schools did not have appropriate facilities (including school buses) to make them accessible to children with disabilities, and reported that the government allocated insufficient resources for renovations.
Although the law mandates standards for physical access by persons with disabilities to newly constructed public buildings, most new buildings were not constructed in compliance with the law. The law also requires that at least 10 percent of the fleets of transport firms with more than 20 vehicles be accessible, to include accommodations for the blind and deaf. Despite some improvements in past years, public transport remained largely inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Open manholes, protruding obstacles, and crosswalks unheeded by motorists also prevented many persons with disabilities from moving freely.
Persons with visual and hearing disabilities had difficulty remaining informed about public affairs due to a lack of accessible broadcast media. Such persons also faced barriers to accessing emergency services, since service providers lacked trained personnel and appropriate technologies to reach these populations. The country’s domestic violence shelters were not accessible to persons with disabilities.
Unlike in the 2013 presidential election, ballots in Braille were readily available in the 2016 parliamentary elections.
The Department for the Development of Persons with Disabilities within the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is responsible for developing and implementing policies and projects for persons with disabilities. The government devoted increased attention to the needs of persons with disabilities, including by adopting a revised law in February on the rights of persons with disabilities that prohibits discrimination, provides for the appointment of a presidential advisor on disabilities issues, and allocates three billion MNT ($1.46 million) annually in small grants and vocational training for persons with disabilities. Nonetheless, enforcement of legal protections and provision of benefits remained weak.
The law requires the government to provide benefits according to the nature and extent of the disability. Although the government generally provided benefits, the amount of financial assistance was low, and it did not reach all persons with disabilities due to the absence of a distribution system.
Ultra-nationalist groups, although less active than in the recent past, continued to commit isolated acts of violence, most often targeted at Chinese nationals.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
There is no law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Consensual same-sex sexual conduct is not proscribed by law, but Amnesty International and the International Lesbian and Gay Association criticized a section of the penal code that refers to “immoral gratification of sexual desires,” arguing that it could be used against persons engaging in same-sex sexual conduct. The law permits individuals who have had gender reassignment surgery to have their birth certificate and national identity card reissued to reflect the change, and the LGBT Center reported that transgender persons successfully applied for new identity cards under this provision.
NGOs continued to report that LGBTI individuals faced violence and discrimination both in public and at home based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The LGBT Center received a number of reports of domestic violence against LGBTI individuals, most involving young LGBTI persons who either came out to their families or were discovered by their families to be LGBTI. Members of the LGBTI community also continued to express fear of ultranationalists, who in the past targeted LGBTI persons.
Some media outlets described gay men, lesbians, and transgender persons in derogatory terms and associated them with HIV/AIDS, pedophilia, and corruption of youth. Additionally, NGOs stated that online media frequently ridiculed LGBTI persons, sometimes revealing their names and addresses in internet comments.
LGBTI persons reported harassment and surveillance by police. Despite training in recent years for police and investigators on how to handle cases involving LGBTI rights, victims reported harassment by officers responding to initial complaints of alleged crimes. NGOs reported difficulties estimating the extent of crimes committed against LGBTI persons due to a combination of limited law enforcement data and a lack of reporting due to social stigma and fear of reprisal. No hate crime law or other criminal justice mechanisms exist to aid in the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of bias-motivated crimes against the LGBTI community. There were also reports of abuse of persons held in police detention centers based on their sexual orientation.
Authorities frequently dismissed charges against those accused of having committed crimes against LGBTI persons. LGBTI persons reported fear of perpetrators acting with impunity against them in cases in which they filed charges against their attackers, and observers cited lack of confidence in law enforcement officials as a reason for underreporting.
There were reports that discrimination in employment was also a problem (see section 7.d.).
NGOs working for the rights of LGBTI individuals organized the country’s fourth year of pride activities. In contrast to the previous year, the Ulaanbaatar metropolitan and Sukhbaatar district governor’s offices allowed LGBTI individuals to assemble freely for the activities.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Although there was no official discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS, some societal discrimination existed. The NHRC and other observers reported health service providers at public and private hospitals and clinics often refused service to individuals with HIV/AIDS based on the fear of contracting HIV themselves. Additionally, the Joint UN Program on HIV and AIDS reported that all women with HIV/AIDS must deliver children at the National Center for Communicable Diseases in Ulaanbaatar. The women bore the cost themselves, and there was no newborn care at the center. The public continued largely to associate HIV/AIDS with same-sex sexual activity, burdening victims with the attendant social stigma and potential employment discrimination. The fact that two-thirds of HIV cases detected involved gay men reinforced this stigma.