Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is illegal and punishable by 12 to 20 years’ imprisonment and additional fines if convicted. The law does not address spousal rape. The government did not enforce the law effectively, in part due to reluctance of victims and their families to report rape. Even when victims reported rape, police and judicial officials were reluctant to act, particularly if alleged perpetrators were politically connected.
Domestic violence is illegal. The penalty for conviction of assault ranges from one to 20 years’ imprisonment. Victims were reluctant to report cases, and the government did not enforce the law effectively. Authorities treated domestic violence as a private matter to be resolved in the home. Police and the judiciary were reluctant to prosecute domestic violence cases. No statistics were publicly available on prosecutions, convictions, or punishments during the year.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Gender Equality mediated some domestic disputes but had no enforcement powers. Police organized several workshops on family violence during the year. The government-controlled media regularly broadcast public service announcements regarding domestic violence.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Although not widespread, levirate marriage, the practice by which a man is required to marry his brother’s widow, occurred.
Sexual Harassment: No law prohibits sexual harassment and it was a problem. The government made no effort to address 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: While the constitution provides for equality between men and women, the country follows the Spanish civil code that applied when the country gained independence in 1968. The code discriminates against women in matters of nationality, real and personal property, and inheritance. According to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the prevalence of negative stereotypes and adverse cultural norms and customs resulted in discrimination against women..
Custom confined women in rural areas largely to traditional roles. Women in urban areas experienced less overt discrimination but did not enjoy pay or access to employment and credit on an equal basis with men (see section 7.d.).
The government provided courses, seminars, conferences, and media programs to sensitize the population and government agencies to the needs and rights of women. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Gender Equality held events around International Women’s Day to raise public awareness of these rights. The ministry also provided technical assistance and financial support to rural women.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from (at least) one Equatoguinean parent whether born in the country or abroad. The Ministry of Health requires parents to register all births, and failure to register a child may result in denial of public services. For additional information, see Appendix C.
Education: Education is tuition-free and compulsory until age 13, although all students are required to pay for textbooks and other materials. Most children attended school through the primary grades. Boys generally completed secondary or vocational schooling. The Ministry of Education required teenage girls to take a pregnancy test and that those who tested positive were not allowed to attend school. Domestic work and childbearing also limited girls’ access to secondary education, especially in rural areas.
Child Abuse: Abuse of minors is illegal, but the government did not enforce the law effectively. Physical punishment was a culturally accepted method of discipline.
Early and Forced Marriage: There is no minimum age for marriage. Forced marriage occurred, especially in rural areas, although no statistics were available. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Gender Equality operated programs to deter child marriage but did not address forced marriage. For additional information, see Appendix C.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age of sexual consent is 18. Child prostitution is illegal, but underage girls engaged in prostitution, particularly in urban areas of Malabo and Bata. Conviction of the commercial sexual exploitation of children is punishable by fines and imprisonment, but authorities generally did not prosecute offenders. The law does not address child pornography.
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 community was small, and there were no known 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 does not prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, nor does it mandate access to buildings or transportation for persons with disabilities (see section 7.d.). Persons with disabilities may vote and otherwise participate in civic affairs, but lack of physical access to buildings posed a barrier to full participation. Inaccessible public buildings and schools were an obstacle for persons with disabilities, including some newly constructed government buildings that lacked such access.
Children with disabilities attended primary, secondary, and higher education, although no accommodations were made for their disabilities.
There were no legal restrictions on the right of persons to vote or participate in civic affairs based on their disability, but lack of access posed a barrier to full participation.
Societal discrimination, harassment by security forces, and political marginalization of minorities were problems (see section 7.d.).
The predominant ethnic group, the Fang, dominated political and economic power. Foreigners were often victimized. Documented and irregular immigrants from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Mali, Benin, Togo, Gabon, and other African countries represented a significant portion of the labor force. Officials routinely stopped foreigners at checkpoints, asked them to provide documentation, and often abused and extorted them. The government delayed its renewal of residence and work permits, leaving immigrants vulnerable to such abuse.
In public speeches President Obiang frequently referred to foreigners as a security and terrorist threat and warned of a renewal of colonialism. Reports of drunken security forces harassing and extorting foreigners at gunpoint increased, including an incident directed at foreign medical professionals and their families, whom they accused of being colonialists.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
There are no laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct, but societal stigmatization of and discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community (LGBTI) community were problems, and the government made no effort to combat them. The government does not formally recognize the existence of LGBTI persons or groups. Its position is that such sexual orientation or gender identity was abnormal.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Despite frequent public statements and radio campaigns advocating nondiscrimination, persons with HIV/AIDS were stigmatized, and many individuals kept their illness hidden. In the 2012 Demographic and Health Survey, the most recent available, 38 percent of women and 42 percent of men surveyed reported holding discriminatory attitudes toward persons with HIV.