Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal and punishable by two to 12 years’ imprisonment. The prosecution of rape occurred most often in cases in which there was evidence of violent assault or the victim was a minor. Government prosecutors won convictions, and judges imposed sentences of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for rape if the victim died, but the full extent of the problem was undocumented. A government family planning clinic and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sought to combat rape by raising awareness of the problem.
Widespread reports of domestic violence continued. Although women have the right to legal recourse in cases of domestic violence, including against spouses, many were reluctant to bring legal action because of the cost and a general lack of faith in the legal system to address their concerns effectively. Women often were uninformed of their legal rights. Some observers stated tradition and custom inhibited women from taking domestic disputes outside the family. The law prescribes penalties ranging from imprisonment for three to eight years in cases of domestic violence resulting in harm to the health of the victim to incarceration for eight to 16 years when such violence leads to loss of life. The law was enforced, but there was no data on the number of prosecutions or convictions for domestic violence.
The Office of Women’s Affairs and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) maintained a counseling center and small shelter with a hotline for domestic violence. The hotline did not receive many calls, but the counseling center and shelter received numerous walk-ins. The Gender Equality Institute within the Office of Women’s Affairs under the Prime Minister’s Office also provided numerous awareness workshops and seminars during the year to educate women on their rights. It also trained police on how to recognize and respond to cases of domestic abuse.
Sexual Harassment: The penal code prohibits sexual harassment. Sexual harassment reportedly occurred, but no data were available on its extent. In cases of sexual harassment that involved violence or threats, the law prescribes penalties of between one and eight years in prison. The maximum penalty for other cases of sexual harassment is imprisonment for three years. The government enforced penal code provisions during the year.
Reproductive Rights: The government recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide freely 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. Health clinics and local NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. There were no restrictions on access to contraceptives. NGOs and the Ministry of Health, however, had insufficient supplies of contraceptives. According to estimates by the UN Population Division, 40 percent of women of reproductive age used a modern method of contraception. The government provided free childbirth services, but the lack of doctors obliged many women, especially in rural areas, to rely on nurses or midwives during childbirth. One government clinic provided prenatal and postnatal care, and the national hospital offered medical assistance when the mother or child suffered serious health complications. According to the most recent UN estimates, there were 74 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2014. Emergency services for the management of complications arising from abortion were available, although the country’s health system was generally limited in ability to respond. Upgrades to the emergency room at the national hospital were completed during the year.
Discrimination: The constitution stipulates and law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, but they do not specifically recognize these rights as they pertain to the family, child custody, labor, employment, owning or managing businesses or property, nationality, or inheritance. Economic discrimination (see section 7.d.) did not generally occur in the areas of credit or housing.
While many women had access to opportunities in education, business, and government, women–particularly older women–generally encountered significant societal discrimination. Traditional beliefs left women with most child-rearing responsibilities. Younger women had increasing access to educational and professional opportunities compared with the older generation, although a high teenage pregnancy rate reduced economic opportunities for some. The Gender Equality Institute within the Office of Women’s Affairs under the Prime Minister’s Office held some seminars and workshops to raise awareness of discrimination against women.
Birth Registration: Children acquire citizenship either through parents or by being born within the country. Either parent, if a citizen, can confer citizenship on a child born outside the country. The law requires registration for all children born in the country at the hospital where they are born. If not born in a hospital, the child must be registered at the nearest precinct office. Parents who fail to register a birth may be fined. According to UNICEF approximately 94 percent of children under five years old had their births registered since 2010.
Child Abuse: Mistreatment of children was not widespread; however, there were few protections for orphans and abandoned children.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage without parental consent is 18 years. The most recent available data (UNICEF, 2010) indicated that 5 percent of women then between the ages of 20 and 24 years old had been married or were in union before age 15, and 34 percent had married or were in a union before age 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: There were no reports of children engaged in prostitution. The penal code prohibits statutory rape and child pornography. The government also uses proscription of kidnapping or unlawful forced labor to enforce the law against sexual exploitation of children. The penalty for commercial sexual exploitation of minors under age 14 is two to 10 years in prison, and the penalty for commercial sexual exploitation of minors between 14 and 17 years old is up to three years in prison. The minimum age of consensual sex is 18 years old.
Displaced Children: The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs operated a social services program that placed street children in three centers where they attended classes and received vocational training. Conditions at the centers were generally good. Overcrowding at the centers remained a problem, but diminished during the year.
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 no known Jewish community, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
There were no confirmed reports during the year that the country was a source, destination, or transit country for victims of human trafficking.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities generally, without specifically listing physical, sensory, mental, and intellectual disabilities. The law, however, does not mandate access to most buildings, transportation, or other services for persons with disabilities. A law passed in 2014 mandates access to school buildings for persons with disabilities, and a few schools were undertaking building upgrades to provide access. There is a special school for children with visual and auditory disabilities, but most children with disabilities attended the same schools as children without disabilities.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law does not criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, but there were occasional reports of societal discrimination, primarily rejection by family and friends, based on sexual orientation. Antidiscrimination laws do not explicitly reference lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons. While there were no official impediments, LGBTI organizations did not exist.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Communities and families often rejected and shunned persons with HIV/AIDS, although there were no reports of official discrimination due to HIV/AIDS status.