Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is illegal, but there is no legal provision against spousal rape. The penalties for rape range from two years’ to life imprisonment, but the court has never imposed a life sentence. Many cases of rape went unreported because societal attitudes discouraged such reporting. The courts treated rape seriously, and the conviction rate generally was high.
The constitution prohibits abuse of women, but societal attitudes tolerated domestic abuse. Social pressure and fear of reprisal typically caused such abuse to go unreported. Village councils typically punished domestic violence offenders only if they considered the abuse extreme, such as when there were visible signs of physical harm.
When police received complaints from abused women, authorities investigated and punished the offender, including imprisonment. Authorities charge domestic violence as common criminal assault, with a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment. The government acknowledged the problem was of significant concern. The Ministry of Police has a nine-person Domestic Violence Unit that works in collaboration with NGOs and focuses on combatting domestic abuse.
Sexual Harassment: No law specifically prohibits sexual harassment, and there were no reliable statistics on its incidence. The lack of legislation and a cultural constraint against publicly shaming or accusing someone, even if justifiable, reportedly caused sexual harassment to be underreported. Victims had little incentive to report instances of sexual harassment, since doing so could jeopardize their career or family name.
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 and men have equal rights under the constitution and statutory law, and the traditionally subordinate role of women continued to change, albeit slowly. To integrate women into the economic mainstream, the government sponsored numerous programs, including literacy and training programs.
Birth Registration: A child derives citizenship by birth in the country if at least one parent is a citizen. The government also may grant citizenship by birth to a child born in the country if the child would otherwise be stateless. Citizenship also derives by birth abroad to a citizen parent who either was born in the country or resided there at least three years. By law children without a birth certificate may not attend primary schools but authorities did not strictly enforce this law.
Child Abuse: Law and tradition prohibit abuse of children, but both tolerate corporal punishment. Press reports indicated an increase in reported cases of child abuse, especially of incest and indecent assault cases, which appeared to be due to citizens’ increased awareness of the importance of reporting physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children. The government aggressively prosecuted such cases. The law prohibits corporal punishment in schools; a teacher convicted of corporal punishment of a student may face up to a one-year prison term.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 21 years for a man and 19 years for a woman. Consent of at least one parent or guardian is necessary if either is younger than the minimum. Marriage is illegal if a woman is younger than 16 or a man is younger than 18. Early marriage did not generally occur.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Sexual abuse of children remained a problem. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16 years. Under the law the maximum penalty for sexual relations with children younger than 12 years is life imprisonment and for children between ages 12 and 15 years the maximum penalty is 10 years’ imprisonment. The law contains a specific criminal provision regarding child pornography. The law specifies a seven-year prison sentence for a person found guilty of publishing, distributing, or exhibiting indecent material featuring a child. Because 16 is the age of majority, the law does not protect 16- and 17-year-old persons.
The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration and the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with NGOs, carried out educational activities to address domestic violence, inappropriate behavior between adults and children, and human rights awareness. In November a male schoolteacher was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old female primary school student on school grounds.
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 country had no 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
No law prohibits discrimination against physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in the provision of public services. Many public buildings were old, and only a few were accessible to persons with disabilities. Most new buildings provided better access, including ramps and elevators in most multistory buildings.
There is a law against discrimination with respect to employment based on disability (see section 7.d.). Tradition dictates that families care for persons with disabilities, and the community observed this custom widely.
Some children with disabilities attended regular public schools, while others attended one of three schools created specifically to educate students with disabilities.
During the year three villages placed a ban on setting up Chinese-owned retail shops on customary land within the village. This was in response to the rapid spread of ethnic Chinese-owned retail shops throughout Apia and into rural villages. The bans apply only on village-owned land (approximately 80 percent of land in the country), not to government or freehold land.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
“Sodomy” and “indecency between males” are illegal, with maximum penalties of seven and five years’ imprisonment, respectively, but authorities did not enforce these provisions with regard to consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults.
Although there were no reports of societal violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity, there were isolated cases of discrimination. Society publicly recognized the transgender Fa’afafine community; however, members of the community reported instances of social discrimination.