Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law. The penalty for rape is up 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.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was a problem. The law provides penalties for domestic violence of up to six years in prison 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 on January 1, all districts had a domestic violence coordinator.
Public and private organizations operated 47 government-funded shelters and managed five 24-hour crisis hotlines. The Oslo Crisis Center repeated its claim that the network of shelters was too small. Victims 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 victim 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 LDO concluded that sexual harassment was not an acute problem in the country.
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: Women have the same legal status as men, but they experienced discrimination in employment. Approximately 25 percent (43 of 175) of complaints received and investigated by the LDO in 2016 concerned discrimination based on gender. 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: The legal definition of rape includes sexual offenses against children under the age of 14. In 2015, the most recent year data were available, 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 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 under the Ministry of Children and Equality is responsible under the law for the protection of children and providing assistance and support services. 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.”
In March the government introduced an action plan for 2017-20 to combat “negative social control” (restricting children’s freedom to living within family or group norms), forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18 is illegal, both in the country and abroad when committed 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.
Approximately 1,300 Jews lived in the country, 700 of whom belonged to Jewish congregations. Jewish Community leaders reported the public generally supported the community.
In May the Progress Party, the junior member in the governing coalition, expressed its support at a party convention for a law banning ritual circumcision of children under the age of 16. Domestic and international Jewish leaders spoke out against it, and the government stated it would not pursue the issue.
Under the government’s 2016 action plan to counter anti-Semitism, police must work toward including anti-Semitism as a separate category of hate crime in police statistics. The action plan also institutionalized the reporting of anti-Semitic attitudes in society every five years.
The Jewish Community expressed concern over a march of 50 neo-Nazis from the group Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) that took place in the town of Kristiansand in July.
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, transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, and the provision of other governmental services, and the government effectively enforced and implemented these provisions. The law mandates access to public buildings, information, and communications for persons with disabilities. In 2016 there were 10 complaints of problems such as lack of ramps for wheelchair users where there are steps or stairs to enter a building.
In June parliament revised the Equality and Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on disability. The LDO noted the amended law should make identifying and investigating discrimination easier by consolidating several antidiscrimination statutes.
Discrimination against immigrants, including asylum seekers and irregular migrants, and ethnic minorities remained a problem. Ethnic discrimination occurred in employment.
Racial profiling is against the law, but authorities did not keep records relating to the stop and search of members of vulnerable groups. NGOs such as the Organization against Public Discrimination (OMOD) continued to report complaints of police profiling of members of ethnic and racial minority groups, particularly the young. According to the NGOs, many incidents went unreported to authorities because victims declined to pursue charges. OMOD also described racial discrimination in the housing market and by certain government authorities, such as the welfare service and customs authority.
During the year the NGO Norwegian Center against Racism and other NGOs observed an increase in hateful rhetoric directed at minorities in online commentaries and social media. The NGOs attributed this rise in part to the media’s coverage of perceived anti-immigrant statements by Immigration and Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug.
The government continued to implement the national strategy against hate speech released in late 2016.
A survey of students with immigrant backgrounds conducted during the summer by the Norwegian Center against Racism found out that one in four such students experienced various forms of racism in school on a regular basis. Other NGOs echoed concerns of pervasive racist sentiments in society.
In June parliament revised the Equality and Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity; the revised law was scheduled to enter into force on January 1, 2018. The LDO noted that the amended law should make identifying and investigating discrimination easier by consolidating several antidiscrimination statutes.
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, Jews, Forest Finns, Roma, and Romani/Tater people (a distinct group of travelers who emigrated to Norway and Sweden in the 1500s).
Roma representatives reported widespread discrimination in dealings with government agencies, especially the welfare, education, and child protective service authorities.
The government financially supported the development of a Romani culture house in Oslo, which the community expected to include a kindergarten as well as language and cultural resources. In 2016 an advisory group was formed to help facilitate communication between Romani representatives and the government.
Although there is no official registry of Sami in the country, as of January 2015 (the latest data available), 55,600 persons of this ethnicity were estimated to live in the northern part of the country. In addition to participating freely in the national political process, the Sami elect their own parliament, the Samediggi. Elections for the Sami parliament were held in September.
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. In June parliament revised the Equality and Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation; the revised law was scheduled to enter into force on January 1, 2018. The LDO noted that the amended law should make identifying and investigating discrimination easier by consolidating several antidiscrimination statutes.
One police station in Oslo had staff that had special training in hate crimes and reported 41 such cases towards the LGBTI community in 2016. In 2015 there were 33 such cases reported.
Members of the LGBTI community reported four cases of harassment during the Oslo pride event, including one threat of rape and two acts of violence. The Association for Gender and Sexual Diversity also reported a continued rise in online harassment from a neo-Nazi group, the NRM, which chanted slogans such as “crush the gay lobby” during a march in Kristiansand in July.
Transgender persons who are 16 and older (and from age 6 to 16 with parental permission) may change their gender on legal identification documents based on gender identity without having to undergo surgery or physical transformation. During the year 190 persons changed their gender on legal documentation.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The Norwegian Center against Racism reported continued anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in society. The Muslim community continued to allege that its complaints were largely ignored in public debate.