Rape and Domestic Violence: The criminal code outlaws sexual intercourse through physical violence, or threat of violence, and provides for sentences of one to 20 years’ imprisonment or life imprisonment, depending on the circumstances. Under the new criminal code, spousal rape was criminalized.
Although domestic violence remained a serious and widespread problem, the new criminal code for the first time criminalized such offenses. Perpetrators can now be punished under both administrative and criminal law, including with imprisonment. The government redesigned its nationwide database of domestic violence perpetrators, and those who commit a second domestic violence offense are automatically charged under criminal law.
Although the law provides alternative measures of protection for victims of domestic abuse, including restraining orders, procedural and other barriers make these difficult to obtain and enforce.
The nongovernmental National Center against Violence (NCAV) reported during the year that police response to domestic violence complaints improved, but prosecution continued to lag. Both the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Crimes against Children Division and the NCAV noted increased reporting of domestic violence by third parties and police responsiveness, which it also attributed to increased government and public awareness of the problem. Combating domestic violence is included in the accredited training curriculum of the law enforcement academy and in all police officer position descriptions.
According to NCAV there were 17 shelters and six one-stop service centers run by a variety of NGOs, local government agencies, and hospitals, compared with seven shelters in 2016. The one-stop service centers, located primarily at hospitals, provided emergency shelter to victims for up to 72 hours. Although three new shelters opened in rural areas, the continued relatively small number of shelters located in these areas presented a challenge for domestic violence victims seeking assistance.
Sexual Harassment: The new criminal code failed to include sexual harassment as a crime despite NGO advocacy in support of such a provision. 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.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/.
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 minimum quotas for women in the government and political parties. It also outlaws discrimination based on sex, appearance, or age, although some NGOs noted that authorities did not enforce this provision.
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 and properties 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 National Committee on Gender Equality, chaired by the prime minister and implemented by 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. The National Program on Gender Equality 2017-21 and its related action plan were adopted to provide for the economic empowerment of women and equal participation in political and public life.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents, and births were generally registered within one to three weeks, although residents of rural areas sometimes registered their children six to eight weeks after birth. Failure to register can result in the denial of public services.
Child Abuse: The new criminal code includes a specific chapter on crimes against children, including forced begging, abandonment, inducing addiction, engaging children in criminal activity or pornography, and the trafficking and abuse of children.
Child abuse was a significant problem and consisted principally of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The government’s Family, Child, and Youth Development Authority (FCYDA) noted that reporting of child abuse had increased due to new laws that oblige citizens to report such abuse. The FCYDA also noted its continued operation of a hotline to report child abuse and the recent opening of an emergency service center, including a shelter, for child victims of abuse.
Child abandonment was also a problem. Some children were orphaned or ran away from home because of poverty-related neglect or parental abuse. Police officials stated they sent children of abusive parents to shelters, but some observers indicated that many youths were returned to abusive parents.
Each province and all of Ulaanbaatar’s district police offices had a specialized police officer appointed to investigate crimes against, or committed by, juveniles.
The Crime Prevention Council, in conjunction with the MOJ, formalized 609 local task forces established since 2003 to prevent child abuse.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years, with court-approved exceptions for minors between 16 and 18 years who also obtain the consent of parents or guardians. There were no reports of underage or forced marriages.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Although it was illegal, the commercial sexual exploitation of children younger than 18 years 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 years. Violators of the statutory rape law (defined as sexual intercourse with a person younger than 16 years not involving physical violence or the threat of violence) are subject to a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
NGOs stated that online child pornography was relatively common. Although police took steps to improve their capacity to investigate such crimes, technical expertise remained limited. Of 192 reported cases of child sexual abuse, only 22 criminal cases were formally opened for further investigation. The penalty for engaging children in pornography under the new criminal code was increased from a maximum sentence of five years to a maximum of eight years’ imprisonment.
Institutionalized Children: According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Sports, approximately 35,000 children lived in more than 500 boarding schools during the 2016-17 academic year. These schools were located primarily in provincial centers to serve students from nomadic families or 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.
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. Neo-Nazi groups active in the country tended to target other Asian nationalities and not Jews.
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 disabilities and defines disabilities as restrictions due to permanent impairment of the body or intellectual, mental, or sensory capacities. Nonetheless, prohibitions against discrimination in employment against persons with disabilities are limited (see section 7.d.). The president has an adviser on disabilities issues. In June parliament established the Council for Implementing Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to be chaired by the prime minister. This national council was created to provide for enforcement of the persons with disabilities law; provide equal participation; and improve social, educational, health, and labor services for persons with disabilities. According to NGOs public officials were more receptive to disability issues than in the past.
There is no explicit prohibition of discrimination in education, but the law charges the government with creating conditions to provide students with disabilities an education. Students with disabilities are by law allowed to attend mainstream schools. Nevertheless, children with disabilities faced significant barriers to education. NGOs expressed concern that children with disabilities in rural areas were more likely to drop out of school because most separate schools for students with disabilities were located in Ulaanbaatar.
Although the law mandates standards for physical access to newly constructed public buildings by persons with disabilities, most new buildings were not constructed in compliance with the law. Following revisions to the law in 2016, a representative of persons with disabilities serves on the state commission for inspecting standards of new buildings. According to the MNFB, this resulted in better enforcement of physical access standards. Public transport remained largely inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Emergency services were often inaccessible to blind and deaf persons because service providers lacked trained personnel and appropriate technologies. Moreover, domestic violence shelters were not accessible to persons with disabilities.
Ballots in braille were readily available in the June and July presidential elections and the 2016 parliamentary election.
The Department for the Development of Persons with Disabilities within the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is responsible for developing and implementing employment policies and projects for persons with disabilities.
Of complaints received by the HRC under the Racial Discrimination Act during 2015-16, 21 percent involved employment, 18 percent involved provision of goods and services, and 15 percent alleged “racial hatred.” Of the remaining 46 percent, two percent involved education, two percent involved housing, one percent involved “access to places,” and 41 percent was listed as “other.”
In August 2016 a Sydney resident was the victim of a racist attack near Macquarie University in which the aggressor demanded she take off her niqab and called her a terrorist. The NSW court fined the aggressor A$750 ($596) and ordered supervision by Community Corrections.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The new criminal code prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, language, race, age, gender, social status, professional position, religion, education, or medical status. Violators are subject to a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. As of September no cases had been prosecuted under the new law. The law permits persons 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. There were reports LGBTI persons faced greater discrimination and fear in rural areas than in Ulaanbaatar due to less public awareness and limited online media accessibility in rural areas. The LGBT Center received a number of reports of violence against LGBTI persons, most involving young LGBTI persons who either came out to their families or were discovered by their families to be LGBTI.
The LGBT Center noted that the new criminal code increased police and public awareness of abuses faced by the LGBTI community, and specialized police training on responding to hate crimes increased police capacity to respond to problems affecting LGBTI persons. There were still, however, cases involving police harassment of LGBTI victims of alleged crimes. Charges were frequently dismissed when a crime victim was an LGBTI person.
There were reports of discrimination against LGBTI persons in employment (see section 7.d.).
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Although there was no official discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS, some societal discrimination existed. The public generally continued to associate HIV/AIDS with same-sex sexual activity, burdening victims with social stigma and potential employment discrimination.