Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape with penalties of up to 15 years in prison but does not criminalize spousal rape. The government generally enforced the law when individuals reported cases. Foreign nationals working as domestic employees occasionally reported that their sponsors or employees of labor recruitment agencies had sexually abused them. According to diplomatic observers, police investigations resulted in few rape convictions.
The law does not specifically address domestic violence, and judicial protection orders from domestic violence do not exist. Charges could be brought, however, under existing statutes outlawing assault, battery, and aggravated assault, which can carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Allegations of spousal abuse in civil courts handling family law cases reportedly were common. Victims of domestic violence may file a complaint with police, and reports suggested that police responded promptly and professionally. The government operated a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits health care practitioners and parents and guardians from performing “traditional practices” that may harm the health of a child, but does not explicitly ban female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). There were no reliable statistics on the prevalence of FGM/C, but some reports suggested it was practiced.
The government held outreach events at mosques, hospitals, and schools and aired television programs about the harm “traditional practices” may have on children.
Sexual Harassment: The country does not have a law against sexual harassment. Sexual harassment has been effectively prosecuted using statutes prohibiting offensive language and behavior.
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 prohibits gender-based discrimination against citizens. Local interpretations of Islamic law and practice of cultural traditions, in social and legal institutions discriminated against women. In some personal status cases, such as divorce, a woman’s testimony is equal to half that of a man. The law favors male heirs in adjudicating inheritance. Women married to noncitizens may not transmit citizenship to their children and cannot sponsor their noncitizen husband’s or children’s presence in the country.
The law provides for transmission of citizenship at birth if the father is a citizen; if the mother is a citizen and the father is unknown; or if a child of unknown parents is found in the country. The law provides that an adult may become a citizen by applying for citizenship and subsequently residing legally in the country for 20 years or 10 years if married to a male citizen.
Children from a marriage between an Omani woman and a non-Omani man are not eligible for citizenship and are vulnerable to being stateless.
Government policy provided women with equal opportunities for education, and this policy effectively eliminated the previous gender gap in educational attainment. Although some educated women held positions of authority in government, business, and media, many women faced job discrimination based on cultural norms. The law entitles women to paid maternity leave and equal pay for equal work. The government, the largest employer of women, observed such regulations, as did many private-sector employers.
The Ministry of Social Development is the umbrella-organization for women’s issues. The ministry provided support for women’s economic development through the Oman Women’s Association and local community development centers.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from the father. Women married to noncitizens may not transmit citizenship to their children, and there were a few reported cases of stateless children based on this law. Children of unknown parents are automatically eligible for citizenship. Government employees raised abandoned children in an orphanage. Such children receive free education through the university level and a job following graduation. Citizen marriage to a foreigner abroad without ministry approval may preclude children from claiming citizenship rights (see section 1.f.).
Child Abuse: The Ministry of Health noted that sexual abuse most commonly involved children of both sexes between the ages of six to 12 and was committed by close relatives or friends of the family. According to the Child Law, any concerned citizen may report child abuse, and each governorate had an interagency committee that would meet to discuss the allegations and possibly take the child out of the parent’s custody until the allegations was investigated.
Early and Forced Marriage: The age of legal marriage for men and women is 18 years, although a judge may permit a person to marry younger when the judge or family deemed the marriage was in the minor’s interest. Child marriage occurred in rural communities as a traditional practice.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography are punishable by no fewer than five years’ imprisonment. All sex outside of marriage is illegal, but sex with a minor under age 15 carries a heavier penalty (up to 15 years’ imprisonment). Authorities do not charge minors. The country is not a destination for child sex tourism, and child prostitution was rare. Soliciting a child for prostitution is prohibited.
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 was no indigenous Jewish population. There were no pending cases of anti-Semitic acts, incidents against foreign resident Jews, or public statements by community leaders or officials during the year.
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 provides persons with disabilities the same rights as other citizens in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services. Persons with disabilities, however, continued to face discrimination. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but many older buildings, including government buildings and schools, did not to conform to the law. The law also requires private enterprises employing more than 50 persons to reserve at least 2 percent of positions for persons with disabilities. Authorities did not systematically enforce this regulation.
The government provided alternative education opportunities for more than 1,900 children with disabilities, including overseas schooling when appropriate.
Additionally, the Ministry of Education collaborated with the International Council for Educational Reform and Development to create a curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities within the standard school system, which was in place throughout the year. The minister of education and the minister of health crafted a broad-based, prioritized strategy for various ministries to coordinate on the issue of child autism in the sultanate, including early autism diagnosis and intervention in children.
The Ministry of Social Development is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The Directorate General of Disabled Affairs within the Ministry of Social Development creates programs for persons with disabilities, and implements these programs in coordination with relevant authorities. The directorate was authorized further to supervise all of the ministry’s rehabilitation and treatment centers for persons with disabilities.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons faced legal, institutional, and social discrimination. The penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct with a jail term of six months to three years. Social and cultural norms reinforced discrimination against openly LGBTI persons.
Public discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity remained a social taboo, and authorities took steps to block LGBTI-related internet content.
Transgender persons were not recognized as a gender class by the government and were not afforded protection from discrimination.
There were no known LGBTI organizations active in the country; however, there were regional human rights organizations that focused on the human rights of LGBTI Omanis. There were no pride marches or LGBTI rights advocacy events.
Information was not available on official or private discrimination in employment, occupation, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There were no government efforts to address potential discrimination.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Foreigners seeking residency in the country are tested for HIV/AIDS. If tested positive, the residency permission is denied, and foreigners must leave the country, but there were no known occurrences of this.