Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape and domestic violence are criminal offenses. Penalties for domestic violence depend on the level of injury to the victim, ranging from required public service to life imprisonment. In the first eight months of the year, authorities received 82 reports of rape, compared with 100 during the same period in 2017. Convicted rapists generally received prison sentences of three to five years. No law specifically criminalizes spousal rape, and no data on spousal rape was available.
The law permits rapid government action in domestic violence cases. For example, police and other law enforcement officials may, with court approval, require perpetrators to live separate from their victims, avoid all contact with them, and surrender any weapons they may possess.
Domestic violence remained a pervasive problem. In 2017, 82 percent of all domestic violence reports were against women. In the first eight months of the year, police received 27,425 domestic violence calls and started 6,970 pretrial investigations, four of which were for killings. In August a woman in the Panevezys region was run over and seriously injured by her husband. Emergency services arrived after five hours only when an outsider called the emergency line. Neighbors did not hide the fact that the man regularly abused his wife. According to the Human Rights Monitoring Institute’s (HRMI) 2016-2017 Human Rights Review, even though the number of reported cases of violence increased in 2017, the percentage of pretrial investigations remained low. According to the HRMI, victim blaming was widely prevalent.
The country had a 24/7 national hotline and 29 crisis centers for victims of domestic violence. The Ministry of Social Security and Labor continued an Action Plan for Domestic Violence Prevention and Assistance to Victims for 2017-2020 and allocated 978,700 euros ($1.2 million) for the year.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment. In March several women reported cases of sexual harassment against a member of parliament (MP) who allegedly harassed them during a job interview. On December 19, the Constitutional Court completed its investigation for impeachment and declared that the MP violated the constitution and breached the parliamentary oath of office.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: Men and women have the same legal status and rights.
Birth Registration: Citizenship can be acquired either by birth in the country or through one’s parents. The government registered all births promptly.
Child Abuse: On July 1, amendments to the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child came into force and banned all violence against children. Sexual abuse of children remained a problem despite prison sentences of up to 13 years for the crime. In the first eight months of the year, the Ministry of the Interior recorded 41 cases of child rape and 110 cases involving other forms of child sexual abuse. The government operated a children’s support center to provide medical and psychological care for children, including those who suffered from various types of violence. It also operated a national center in Vilnius to provide legal, psychological, and medical assistance to sexually abused children and their families.
According to the Department of Statistics, there were 5,625 reports of child abuse in 2017 compared with 2,681 in 2016. In the first eight months of the year, the children’s rights ombudsman reported receiving 168 complaints. In July a new law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child went into effect.
Child Line (a hotline for children and youth) received 153,004 telephone calls from children between January and August. Child Line also received and answered 748 letters from children, whose concerns ranged from relations with their parents and friends to family violence and sexual abuse.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Individuals involving a child in pornographic events or using a child in the production of pornographic material are subject to imprisonment for up to five years (see also section 2.a., Freedom of Expression, Including for the Press). Persons who offer to purchase, acquire, sell, transport, or hold a child in captivity are subject to imprisonment for three to 12 years. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children’s Rights reported receiving one complaint of alleged sexual exploitation of children. According to the Ministry of the Interior, during the first eight months of the year, officials opened three criminal cases involving child pornography during the first eight months of the year. The age of consent is 16.
Institutionalized Children: As of September 1, the children’s rights ombudsman received eight complaints and started two investigations regarding children’s rights violations in orphanages and large-family foster homes.
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 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.
The Jewish community consisted of approximately 3,000 persons. There were reports of anti-Semitism, especially on the internet.
Police had instructions to take preemptive measures against illegal activities, giving special attention to maintaining order on specific historical dates and certain religious or cultural holidays.
On March 15, parliament removed Vigilijus Sadauskas from the position of ombudsman for academic ethics and procedures amid allegations of anti-Semitism. Sadauskas had offered a reward to students who submitted a research thesis about Jewish crimes in the 20th century.
On June 24, the government adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.
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 discrimination against persons with disabilities. There was no proactive enforcement of these requirements. The equal opportunities ombudsman investigated cases of alleged discrimination based on disability (see section 7.d.).
Although the law mandates that buildings be accessible to persons with disabilities, according to the Lithuanian Disability Forum, approximately 50 percent of public buildings were not accessible for persons with disabilities, including many state health institutions for persons with disabilities and buildings belonging to establishments of higher education.
In 2017 the equal opportunity ombudsperson found that 65 percent of voting stations were not accessible for persons with disabilities.
According to the Council of Europe, there were an estimated 15,000 persons under 18 with disabilities in the country. The law requires that all schools that provide compulsory and universally accessible education make available education to students with disabilities. The country has a tradition of separate schools for children with various disabilities.
According to the Lithuanian Disability Forum, only 16.5 percent of 109 schools inspected in the 2011-2015 period were accessible to persons with disabilities, 31.2 percent had limited accessibility, and 52.3 percent were completely inaccessible. The law prohibits persons with disabilities who have been deprived of their legal capacity from voting or standing for election.
The law prohibits discrimination against ethnic or national minorities, but intolerance and societal discrimination persisted. According to the 2011 census, approximately 14 percent of the population were members of minority ethnic groups, including Russians, Poles, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Karaites, and Jews.
On July 19, Fabian Sanchez, an Ecuadorian residing in Vilnius, was waiting at a bus stop when two men shouting “Lithuania for Lithuanians” physically assaulted him. In August, Vilnius police arrested two suspects, completed their investigation, and transferred the case to the Vilnius City District Court for further investigation.
According to a former Vilnius County prosecutor, judges and other law enforcement officials seldom prosecuted discrimination and incitement of racial, ethnic, religious, or other hatred on the internet, giving priority to “real-life” crimes with identifiable victims.
Representatives of the Polish minority, approximately 200,000 persons according to the 2011 census, continued to raise their concerns about restrictions on the use of Polish letters in official documents, particularly passports, and the lack of a law on protecting national minorities’ rights.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Gender identity remains unrecognized in the law. Societal attitudes toward LGBTI persons remained largely negative.
In May the National LGBTI Rights Organization (LGL) released a survey that found more than 50 percent of LGBTI students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. Another 27 percent reported hearing anti-LGBTI remarks from teachers or school staff sometimes, often, or frequently.
In August and September, an unknown suspect set fire to the door of the home of openly gay film director Romas Zabarauskas. In August arsonists also burned the door of the LGL. Police arrested two suspects in the crime against the LGL. The police investigation into the fires allegedly targeting members of the LGBTI community continued at year’s end. On September 17, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius visited the LGL office to express support and solidarity and to discuss the recent acts of violence in Vilnius against the LGBTI community.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
NGO experts noted that individuals with HIV/AIDS continued to be subject to discrimination, including in employment, and treated with fear and aversion.