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. Most cases resulted in sentences of three years and four months in prison.
The law provides penalties for domestic violence of up to six years in prison and up to 21 years for aggravated rape. Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was a problem. 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 offices within the police districts offered counsel and support to victims. All police districts had a domestic violence coordinator. NGOs claimed that a lack of training, standardized procedures and resources hindered the investigation and prosecution of rape and domestic violence cases in a timely manner with most cases closed without arrest or prosecution.
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. Victims may also qualify for a one-time payment from a government-sponsored fund.
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 costs and resources needed to bring such cases to court have been barriers to victims seeking redress in all but the most egregious cases. The revised Equality and Antidiscrimination Ombud Act, which entered into force on January 1, created an Antidiscrimination Tribunal to process antidiscrimination cases, including sexual harassment. This new tribunal offers victims a lower-threshold option to initiate cases at lower costs and with fewer legal hurdles.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status as men, but they experienced discrimination in employment (see section 7.d.). Approximately 20 percent (21 of 106) of complaints received and investigated by the LDO in 2017 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: In 2017 the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth, and Family Affairs initiated 48,732 investigations of alleged child abuse and completed 48,235. By the end of 2017, the government’s Child Welfare Services assisted 39,612 children, of whom 30,579 received in-home assistance, while 9,033 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. An amendment to the law that came into effect on July 1 prohibits children who are ages 16 through 18 from marrying; this had previously been legal with the consent of the parents or guardians and permission from the county governor.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children younger than age 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 minimum 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 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.
Approximately 1,400 Jews lived in the country, 700 of whom belonged to Jewish congregations. Jewish community leaders reported the public generally supported the community.
On June 15 at a concert celebrating diversity, rapper Kaveh Kholardi asked whether there were any Jews in the audience. He then exclaimed “F****** Jews. No, just kidding.” The concert’s organizer, the City of Oslo, reportedly both followed up with the artist and publicly apologized to those whom Kholardi offended. Kholardi claimed to be “neither a racist nor hates Jews.” He did not apologize but wrote on social media that the quote was taken out of context. He stated, “the last thing he wished was to cultivate conflict.”
In July the European Jewish Council expressed concern that at least two hospitals, the Stavanger University Hospital and the Haukeland University Hospital, were violating the law by refusing to perform circumcisions for children younger than age three. The law requires public hospitals to offer religious circumcision services either at their facilities or through a contractor.
In August the local Jewish community condemned as anti-Semitic an editorial cartoon published in the newspaper Dagbladet. The cartoon depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a body shaped as a swastika.
The government continued to implement measures from its Action Plan against Anti-Semitism 2016-2020. Under the plan, police are supposed to include 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 action plan provides for integrating anti-Semitism education into all schools, supporting Jewish museums and cultural institutions, and funding research on anti-Semitism and Jewish life and public advocacy programs to combat anti-Semitism.
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, and the government effectively enforced and implemented these provisions. The law mandates access to public buildings, information, and communications for persons with disabilities.
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 Norwegian Center against Racism continued to report complaints of police profiling of members of ethnic and racial minority groups, particularly young men. According to the NGO, many incidents went unreported to authorities because victims declined to pursue charges often due to fear that it would result in scrutiny of the victim’s immigration status.
The government continued to implement the national strategy against hate speech released in late 2016.
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).
Several NGO’s expressed concern that members of the Romani community still experienced difficulty accessing social welfare services due to cultural barriers and an unwillingness by social welfare providers to provide outreach to address these barriers.
There is no official registry of Sami in the country. As of January government statistics showed that 55,544 persons lived in the areas defined as “Sami,” 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 took place in September 2017.
In May the Norwegian National Institution for Human Rights submitted data to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child indicating that the Sami people experienced discrimination in several areas of social life. In particular, the Sami experienced discrimination in the public health system and education system. Sami children were also not always afforded their right to Sami-language education.
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 in housing, employment, citizenship law, and access to government services such as health care. 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.
The Association of Gender and Sexual Diversity repeated its concern about underreporting of sexual orientation as a factor in hate crimes, and worked with the police to provide better training and education on this matter.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The Norwegian Center against Racism reported continued anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in society.