Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law. The penalty for rape is two to 21 years in prison, depending on the severity of the assault, the age of the victim, and the circumstances in which the crime occurred. Very few cases resulted in a sentence longer than three years and four months in prison.
Amnesty International Norway continued to claim that the law inadequately protected women against violence and that statistics on rape and sexual assault were not regularly updated. Amnesty criticized police for poor investigation of rape cases and cited a lack of training for lay judges, resulting in personal prejudices affecting the judges’ vote. Media reports of transcripts and discussions among lay judges in several rape cases showed prejudices regarding the victim’s skirt length, the amount of alcohol consumed prior to the rape, and statements such as “that slut was looking for it wearing a dress like that.”
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was a problem. The law provides higher penalties for domestic violence (one to three years in prison) than for simple assault, with an increased term of up to six years in more severe cases and up to 21 years for aggravated rape. The government generally enforced the law, although the foundation Oslo Crisis Center continued to criticize the conviction rate (approximately 10 percent) as too low.
The government had programs to prevent rape and domestic violence and to counsel victims. Following the consolidation of police districts from 27 to 12 as of January 1, all 12 districts had a domestic violence coordinator.
Public and private organizations operated 45 government-funded shelters and managed five 24-hour crisis hotlines. The Oslo Crisis Center believed that the network of shelters was too small and that many women were less likely or unable to seek help, since they would have to travel long distances to do so, especially in the sparsely populated districts in the north of the country. The shelters provided support and counseling for victims and helped them gain access to social services, doctors, lawyers, and housing authorities. Survivors of domestic violence have a right to consult a lawyer free of charge before deciding whether to make a formal complaint. If the government initiates criminal proceedings, the survivor is entitled to free assistance from a victim’s advocate.
Sexual Harassment: The law provides that “employees shall not be subjected to harassment or other unseemly behavior,” and the government effectively enforced this provision. Employers who violate this law are subject to fines or prison sentences of up to two years, depending on the seriousness of the offense. The ombudsman for equality and antidiscrimination concluded that sexual harassment was not an acute problem in the country.
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, or violence.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status as men. Approximately 28 percent, or 50 of the 181 complaints received and investigated by the ombudsman for equality and antidiscrimination in 2015, concerned discrimination based on gender. Women experienced discrimination in employment.
The law mandates that 40 percent of the members of boards of directors of publicly listed companies be women, and virtually all public companies complied with the law.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents; children born in the country do not automatically become citizens. All birth clinics in the country reported births to a central birth register and provided the parents with a birth certificate. The birth certificate does not confer citizenship.
Child Abuse: During the year the government amended the law to include sexual offenses against children under the age of 14 under the definition of rape. In 2015 the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth, and Family Affairs initiated 43,681 investigations of alleged child abuse and completed 44,100. By the end of 2015, approximately 36,800 children had received assistance from the Child Welfare Services, of whom 21,950 received in-home assistance, while 14,850 were removed from their family home.
An independent children’s ombudsman office within the Ministry of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion is responsible under the law for the protection of children and providing assistance and support services. With five regional offices and 26 professional teams, the office is the government’s principal agency for the welfare and protection of children and families. If criminal proceedings are initiated, the victim is entitled to free assistance from a victim’s advocate.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage in the country is 18 for both women and men, although a 16-year-old child may marry with the consent of parents or guardians and permission from the county governor. The county governor may give permission only when there are “special reasons for contracting a marriage.”
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18 is illegal, both in the country and when committed abroad by a citizen of the country. In both cases the punishment is either a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years. Child pornography is also illegal and punishable by a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years. The government generally enforced the laws. The age for consensual sex is 16.
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.
There were approximately 1,500-2,000 Jews in the country, 747 of whom belonged to Jewish congregations. Jewish Community leaders reported the public generally supported the community.
Anti-Semitism was bundled with other hate crimes in the country’s statistics. Police stated that the number of anti-Semitism cases was too low to warrant a separate reporting mechanism.
On October 2, the government released an 11-point action plan to counter anti-Semitism in society. The plan emphasized training and education programs, research on anti-Semitism and Jewish life in the country, and efforts to safeguard the country’s Jewish culture. It also adopted anti-Semitism as a separate category of hate crime in police statistics.
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 law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, and the provision of other governmental services, and the government effectively implemented and enforced these provisions. The law applies to all persons with disabilities without enumerating specific types of disabilities. It mandates access to public buildings, information, and communications for persons with disabilities. The most common problem reported by the LDO was access for persons with physical disabilities (60 such complaints in 2015), such as lack of ramps for wheelchair users where there are steps or stairs to enter a building. In 2009 the government began implementing the Norway Universally Designed by 2025 action plan, which works to ensure increased accessibility for persons with disabilities.
Discrimination against immigrants, including asylum seekers and irregular migrants, and ethnic minorities remained a problem. Ethnic discrimination occurred in employment.
A review by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released in 2015 stated that authorities did not fully address problems such as racism and hate speech. Although the law prohibits discrimination based on ethnicity, the committee specifically identified the law’s omission of race as a prohibited basis of discrimination, the government’s lack of statistical information about the ethnic composition and well-being of the population, and “the increase in hate speech and xenophobic discourse by politicians and in media and other public platforms, including via internet.”
The Norwegian Center against Racism continued its criticism of the government for lacking an action plan against racism.
Although there is no official registry of Sami in the country, as of January 2015, approximately 55,600 persons were estimated to live north of Saltfjellet, an area in northern Norway with a significant Sami majority. In addition to participating freely in the national political process, the Sami elect their own parliament, the Samediggi. The law establishing the Sami parliament stipulates that the 39-seat consultative group meet regularly to deal with “all matters, which in [its] opinion are of special importance to the Sami people.”
On August 9, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous persons noted problems of unclear and unsecure Sami land and resource rights outside Finnmark County and of instances where respect was not paid to the customs, traditions, and land tenure systems of the Sami people.
Noting that sea salmon fishing and spring duck hunting in the municipality of Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino form an important part of Sami cultural heritage, the special rapporteur stated there were insufficient safeguards on sea salmon fishing and spring duck hunting to ensure they could be pursued and maintained according to Sami tradition in a culturally and ecologically sustainable way. The special rapporteur identified a need to ensure that the mining law requires adequate consultations with the affected indigenous communities.
Sami officials continued to report that authorities did not provide sufficient access to Sami language resources.
In addition to the Sami, five ethnically non-Norwegian groups with a long-standing attachment to the country have a special protected status under the law: Kvens/Norwegian Finns (people of Finnish descent in Northern Norway), Jews, Forest Finns, Roma, and Romani/Tater people (a distinct group of travelers who emigrated to Norway and Sweden in the 1500s).
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While violence motivated by discriminatory attitudes towards transgender persons is not considered a hate crime, crimes based on discriminatory attitudes towards sexual orientation can be treated as aggravated crimes.
The NGO Association for Gender and Sexual Diversity (previously known as the LLH) estimated that a significant number of crimes against LGBTI individuals were not reported to police. One police station in Oslo, Manglerud, had a dedicated task force to work on hate crimes and reported 30 registered cases of hate crimes towards the LGBTI community during the year through September. There were 33 such cases reported in 2015.
The LGBTI community experienced a rise in online harassment from a neo-Nazi group that photographed the pride parades in Oslo and Kristiansand and then posted the images online with derogatory captions. In Kristiansand the group also removed rainbow flags from flagpoles, burned them, and posted the images online.
Transgender persons may administratively change their name. On May 30, parliament approved legislation to allow persons who are 16 and older (and from age 6 to 16 with parental permission) to change their gender on legal identification documents based on gender identity without having to undergo surgery or physical transformation. Previously, a person had to be diagnosed as having a “transsexual gender identity disorder” and undergo a sex-change operation, a process that could take as long as 10 years.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The Norwegian Center against Racism reported continued anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment in society. The Muslim community asserted that its complaints were ignored in public debate.