Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. The penalty for rape is six to 12 years in prison. The law also prohibits violence against women and sets prison sentences of six months to a year for domestic violence, threats of violence, or violations of restraining orders, with longer sentences if serious injuries result.
According to the government’s delegate for gender violence, as of October partners or former partners were responsible for the deaths of 42 women. According to the General Council of the Judiciary, 47,175 cases of gender violence were prosecuted in 2016. The Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence reported 142,893 complaints of gender-based violence in 2016. Independent media and government agencies generally paid close attention to gender-based violence.
During the year the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality spent 4.8 million euros ($5.8 million) on awareness campaigns.
A 24-hour toll-free national hotline advised battered women on finding shelter and other local assistance.
In February police forces started sending text messages to female victims of gender violence alerting them to changes in the prison sentences of their attackers.
In September congress approved the State Plan against Gender Violence, with a budget of one billion euros ($1.2 billion) over five years, to support efforts to counter the problem.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C and authorizes courts to prosecute residents of the country who have committed this crime in the country or anywhere in the world. Doctors must ask parents in the country to sign a declaration promising their daughter(s) will not undergo FGM/C when they visit countries where the practice is common. Once a family returns to the country, a doctor, who can start legal action against the parents if examination finds that the minors underwent FGM/C during their trip, must examine the girl(s) again.
As of July 31, police in Catalonia investigated four cases of FGM/C.
The State Plan against Gender Violence approved in September included FGM/C as a form of gender violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, but few cases came to trial. The punishment in minor cases can be between three and five months in jail or fines of six to eight months’ salary. Harassment reportedly continued to be a 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: Under the law women enjoy the same rights as men. The government generally enforced the law.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents. All children born in the country, except children of diplomats and children whose parents’ country of origin gives them nationality, are registered as citizens. When a child does not acquire the parents’ nationality, the government may grant it.
Child Abuse: As of May 2016, either a parent or a parent’s partner killed five minors. In 2016 the NGO Foundation for Children and Youth at Risk received 468,754 telephone calls and emails reporting various forms of child abuse, an increase of 27 percent from 2015.
The Catalan regional government continued to be concerned about the poor conditions of shelters for unaccompanied foreign children in the region.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age of marriage is 16 years for minors living on their own.
The law categorizes forced marriage as a crime punishable by from six months to three years and six months in prison. Forced marriage carries similar penalties as coercion.
As of July 31, Catalan police assisted four victims of forced marriage, one of whom was a minor.
In May a 19-year-old Moroccan woman from Vilanova sought protection. Authorities reported that the woman had travelled to her hometown in Morocco with her parents (both Spanish citizens) and was told she could not leave Morocco unless she agreed to marry a 33-year-old man. The woman was able to escape with her 16-year old sister and return to Barcelona. Authorities placed her parents under investigation for crimes of forced marriage and gender violence. A judge granted the woman a restraining order and issued a no-contact order against her parents.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law criminalizes the “abuse and sexual attack of minors” under the age of 13. The penalty for sexual abuse and assault of children under the age of 13 is imprisonment from two to 15 years, depending on the nature of the crime. Individuals who contact children under the age of 13 through the internet for the purpose of sexual exploitation face imprisonment of one to three years. Authorities enforced the law.
The minimum age for consensual sex in the country is 16. The law defines sexual acts committed against persons under age 16 as nonconsensual sexual abuse, and provides for sentences from two to 15 years in prison, depending on the circumstances.
Penalties for recruiting children or persons with disabilities into prostitution are imprisonment from one to five years. The penalty for subjecting children to prostitution is imprisonment from four to six years.
The commercial sexual exploitation of trafficked teenage girls remained a problem.
The law prohibits child pornography. The penal code criminalizes using a minor “to prepare any type of pornographic material” as well as producing, selling, distributing, displaying, or facilitating the production, sale, dissemination, or exhibition of “any type” of child pornography by “any means.” The penalty is one to five years’ imprisonment; if the child is under the age of 13, imprisonment is five to nine years. The law also penalizes knowingly possessing child pornography.
There is a registry for sex offenders to bar them from activities in which they could be in the presence of minors.
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.
The Jewish community numbered approximately 40,000-45,000 persons. The descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from the country 500 years ago have the right of return as full Spanish citizens under a 2016 law due to expire in 2019. In July the secretary of state for justice said that 1,091 Sephardic Jews had obtained Spanish nationality under that law. The Jewish community noted that burdensome financial and administrative requirements such as a self-funded trip to the country made the process more difficult.
The law considers denial and justification of genocide as a crime if it incites violence, with penalties that range from one to four years in prison.
According to Jewish community leaders and the NGO Movement against Intolerance, anti-Semitic incidents included graffiti on Jewish institutions, although violence against Jews was rare. According to the Ministry of the Interior, there were seven cases of anti-Semitism in 2016, down from nine in 2015. Government institutions promoted religious pluralism, integration, and understanding of Jewish communities and history, but their efforts did not reach all of the country’s autonomous regions.
In 2016, according to a report from the Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience, six instances of religiously motivated violence targeted Jews.
On March 15, unknown persons wrote “All Jews to the gas chambers” on a wall in the University of Barcelona.
On June 7, the National Police arrested a 23-year-old woman in Zaragoza for writing messages on social networks that encouraged attacks on Jews. Some of the messages openly incited attacks on Israelis, with phrases such as “stab the Jews.”
In March a neo-Nazi who stabbed five persons in 2014 was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
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, with fines of up to one million euros ($1.2 million), discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government generally enforced these provisions effectively.
The law requires private companies with more than 50 employees to hire persons with disabilities for at least 2 percent of their jobs. In February 2016 the NGO Leialta estimated that 81 percent of the companies did not comply with the obligation.
Of the 1,272 hate crimes reported in 2016, 262 (20.6 percent) were committed against persons with disabilities.
The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities. While the government generally enforced these provisions, levels of assistance and accessibility varied among regions.
The Ministry of the Interior reported 416 hate crimes linked to racism (38 percent) in 2016, a decrease of 17.6 percent from 2015. The regions of Catalonia, Madrid, Andalusia, the Basque Country, and Valencia had the highest numbers of hate crimes according to the ministry’s data.
According to Fundacion Secretariado Gitano (FSG), one of the largest NGOs working with Roma in the country, 94 percent of Romani children started school at the compulsory age of three and more than 96 percent of those completed primary education, but the dropout rate in obligatory secondary education still amounted to 64 percent in 2015, compared with 13 percent for the entire country. In 2016 approximately 91 percent of the country’s Roma were literate, a gain of almost 5 percent over the previous 10 years. The FSG also noted that, despite many successes, Roma remained marginalized, and they were poorer when compared with other Spaniards due to high dropout rates, poor access to the labor market, and inconsistent use of universal health care. The FSG’s 2016 annual report cited 202 cases of discrimination against Roma affecting 334 persons.
Some of the efforts to address problems affecting the Romani community included tougher penalties for hate crimes, specialized prosecutors, a network to assist victims, and a council designed to eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination. The government has various programs, such as the Acceder Program and Learning by Doing Program, to assist young Roma in accessing the job market and to increase their professional skills. More than 87,000 persons benefited directly from such programs, with Roma constituting 67 percent and women 53 percent of the beneficiaries.
The NGO SOS Racism recorded 121 cases of racism in Catalonia in 2016, 80 of which were reported to local authorities and 41 of which went unreported. The NGO found that 28 percent of the cases were perpetrated by public security agents and 17 percent by private individuals.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The country’s antidiscrimination laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The law penalizes those who provoke discrimination, hate, or violence based on sexual orientation with up to three years’ imprisonment. The law also prohibits denial or disqualification of employment based on sexual orientation and the formation of associations that promote discrimination, hate, or violence against others based on their sexual orientation. The law can consider an anti-LGBTI hate element an aggravating circumstance in crimes.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, 230 hate crimes reported during 2016 were linked to the victim’s sexual orientation, an increase of 36.1 percent from 2015. The LGBTI association Arcopoli also asserted that most of the attackers were under the age of 30.
The government fought LGBTI hate crimes by sensitizing police and social workers on sexual diversity, increasing awareness of LGBTI hate crimes, facilitating reporting, and providing better assistance to crime victims. Employing a whole-of-government approach, authorities channeled their efforts in the area through the Spanish Observatory against LGBTI-phobia, an initiative by the Spanish Federation of LGBTI Persons with the support of the Ministries of Health, Social Services, and Equality, and of the Interior.
The Catalan government delivered more than 300 health cards to transgender individuals, allowing them to record the name and gender with which they identify. Other measures included the right to assisted reproduction of lesbian women, the implementation of the protocol against LGBTI-biphobia in schools, and training courses for civil servants, teachers, and geriatric nursing staff. The budget for these activities increased substantially to 1.3 million euros ($1.6 million).
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
According to the Ministry of the Interior, 1,272 hate crimes were reported in 2016, a 4.2-percent decline from 2015. Of these, 240 cases involved physical injuries and 205 involved threats. The NGO Movement against Intolerance estimated that 80 percent of hate crimes in the country were unreported.
According to a report from the Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience, in 2016 there were 153 instances of religiously motivated violence. An estimated 4.2 percent of hate crimes involved religion. Of the 1,272 crimes reported, 47 were committed against Muslims.