Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape of men and women, including spousal rape and domestic violence, is illegal. Sexual violence is a criminal offense, and the penalty for conviction is six months’ to eight years’ imprisonment. The penalty for conviction for rape is one to 10 years’ imprisonment. Police generally investigated accusations of rape, and courts generally tried accused offenders. In January a local court sentenced an individual to 10 months in prison for criminal coercion for allegedly raping an intoxicated woman in 2015 while she was asleep. The penal code defines rape as a perpetrator coercing the victim into sexual intercourse by means of force or serious threats. Local NGOs criticized the sentencing as excessively light and demanded the government change the penal code’s definition of rape to the absence of consent.
The law provides from six months’ to 10 years’ imprisonment for aggravated and grievous bodily harm. Upon receiving reports of spousal abuse or violence, police mostly intervened and prosecuted offenders, but local NGOs reported victims of sexual violence often did not report crimes to police. Local NGOs assessed that police and courts did not effectively intervene in or prosecute cases of alleged domestic abuse.
There was a network of maternity homes, safe houses, and shelters for women and children who were victims of violence. The police academy offered annual training on domestic violence. Local NGOs reported women lacked equal access to assistance and support services and that free psychosocial assistance from NGOs was unavailable in many parts of the country. NGOs also reported a lack of practical training and educational programs for professionals who are legally bound to offer services to survivors of violence. NGOs highlighted the lack of systematic and continuous prevention programs for domestic violence and rape and reported there were no specialized support programs for Romani women, elderly women, or other vulnerable groups.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment of men and women is a criminal offense carrying a penalty if convicted of up to three years’ imprisonment. The law prohibits sexual harassment, psychological violence, mistreatment, or unequal treatment in the workplace that causes “another employee’s humiliation or fear.” Authorities did not prosecute any sexual harassment cases during the year.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men and prohibits official discrimination in matters such as employment, housing, inheritance, nationality, religious freedom, or access to education or health care. Despite legal provisions for equal pay, inequities persisted. Although women were well represented in parliament and in ministerial and deputy ministerial-level posts, as of December only 22 of the 212 mayors in the country were women.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from the parents with certain limitations. A child is granted citizenship at birth if the child’s mother and father were citizens, or one of the child’s parents was a citizen and the child was born on the territory of the country, or one of the child’s parents was a citizen while the other parent was unknown or of unknown citizenship and the child was born in a foreign country. Naturalization is possible. Children of migrants and asylum seekers do not qualify for citizenship if they are born in the country, although their parents may file for asylum or refugee status on their behalf.
Child Abuse: Child abuse is a criminal offense, and conviction carries a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment. In the first half of the year, police reported 52 cases of child abuse and 353 cases of negligence. The number of reported cases of child abuse was approximately on track with those reported in 2018, whereas the number of reported cases of negligence nearly doubled.
In October 2018 authorities closed the Kengurujcki (Little Kangaroos) child-care facility following allegations of child abuse. After alerting staff to the inappropriate treatment of children, a newly hired employee at the facility recorded a video showing children between the ages of 11 months and four years subjected to force feeding and life-threatening ways to stop them from crying. The video showed a baby with her head and body tightly wrapped in sheets with a mattress on top of her. The employee showed the video to parents, and they jointly reported the case to police. In January local courts charged the perpetrator with neglect and cruel treatment of 10 children. The suspect faced up to three years’ imprisonment. The court case remained pending.
In October a local court sentenced a former kindergarten teacher to a one-year suspended sentence and three years’ probation for three counts of violence against children and barred this individual from future professional work with children. The assailant allegedly abused the children while working as a teacher at the Hrvatini Kindergarten in Koper.
There were 10 crisis centers for youth with a combined capacity for 86 children. The government allowed children to stay at these centers until they reached the age of 21 if they were still in school.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 18. Centers for social service may approve marriage of a person younger than 18, with the approval of parents or legal guardians. Child marriage occurred in the Romani community, but it was not a widespread problem.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The possession, sale, purchase, or propagation of child pornography is illegal. The penalty for conviction of violations ranged from six months to eight years in prison. The government enforced the law effectively. The law prohibits sexual violence and abuse of minors and soliciting minors for sexual purposes. Statutory rape carries a prison sentence of three to eight years in prison. The law sets the minimum age of consent for sexual relations at 15. The government generally enforced the law.
In March a local court penalized a general medical practitioner with an 18-month suspended sentence for abuse of power and violation of the sexual integrity of a minor for allegedly demanding a 16-year-old disrobe and touching the victim’s breasts and genital areas during an examination for mononucleosis.
In 2018 the hotline Spletno oko (Web Eye) received a sharp increase of reports of potential online criminal acts related to the sexual abuse of children compared with 2017.
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/reported-cases.html.
There are an estimated 300 persons of Jewish descent in the country. There were no reports of anti-Semitic violence or overt discrimination.
In December 2018 unknown persons damaged a menorah that was displayed outside Ljubljana’s Jewish Cultural Center to commemorate Hanukkah. The director of the Jewish Cultural Center did not report the incident to police.
In November 2018 police in Velenje arrested a juvenile for public incitement of hatred and intolerance for hanging six Nazi-themed posters in public places. The president and prime minister strongly condemned the act, and the case remained pending. The government promoted antibias and tolerance education in primary and secondary schools, and the Holocaust was a mandatory topic in the history curriculum.
High-level government officials regularly attended the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and other Jewish cultural activities and commemorations. The country is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and supports IHRA’s Working Definition of Antisemitism.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The law mandates access to buildings and public transportation for persons with disabilities, but modification of public and private structures to improve access continued at a slow pace, and some public transportation stations and buildings–particularly older buildings–were not accessible, especially in rural areas. The law provides social welfare assistance and early-childhood, elementary, secondary, and vocational education programs for children with disabilities. Children with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities are entitled to tailored educational programs with additional professional assistance and resources. Depending on their individual needs, some children attended school (through secondary school) with nondisabled peers, while others attended separate schools. It also provides vocational and independent living resources for adults with disabilities. The government continued to implement laws and programs to provide persons with disabilities access to education, employment, health services, buildings, information, communications, the judicial system, transportation, and other state services. The government generally enforced these provisions effectively.
In April the government adopted a proposal to register Slovenian sign language as a constitutionally official language.
The electoral law requires all polling stations to be accessible to persons with disabilities, but the National Electoral Commission estimated that, as of the 2017 presidential election, only 56 percent of polling stations were accessible. In March a local NGO filed a suit at the Constitutional Court alleging the country’s existing legislation did not provide for full access to persons with disabilities at polling stations. As of December the case remained pending. In the 2018 parliamentary elections, the National Electoral Commission used mobile ballot boxes to provide equal access to voters with disabilities. Voters with disabilities who are unable to reach a polling station on election day may also vote by mail.
Two national minorities and one ethnic minority–all of which are constitutionally recognized–live in the country: Roma (estimated at 7,000 to 12,000), Hungarians (approximately 8,000), and Italians (approximately 4,000). The approximately 500 to 2,000 ethnic Germans are not recognized as an official minority group, nor are the approximately 200,000 ethnic Albanians, Bosniaks, Croatians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Serbs.
Italian and Hungarian minority communities are each guaranteed one member of parliament to represent their community in the (90-member) National Assembly. Members of the Italian and Hungarian minority communities hold a “double voting right” whereby they elect a representative of their respective minority to the parliament, while also voting in the general parliamentary elections.
Romani minority communities are guaranteed one city council representative in each of the 20 municipalities in which Roma are considered indigenous (areas in which there is a sizeable Roma minority). Members of the Romani minority communities in each of these 20 municipalities hold a “double voting right” whereby they elect a representative of their minority to the municipal council, while also voting in the general municipal elections.
As unofficial minority groups, ethnic Germans, Albanians, Bosniaks, Croatians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Serbs do not enjoy the national or municipal political representation held by the Italian, Hungarian, and Romani minorities, but they hold all civil rights and liberties afforded to Slovenian citizens.
Discrimination against socially marginalized Roma persisted in some parts of the country. Organizations monitoring conditions in the Romani community noted that Roma faced difficulties securing adequate housing in traditional housing markets. Many Roma lived apart from other communities in illegal settlements lacking basic utilities, such as electricity, running water, sanitation, and access to transportation. Government officials emphasized that the illegality of settlements remained the biggest obstacle to providing Roma access to adequate housing, water, and sanitation. By law only owners or persons with other legal claims to land, such as legal tenants, may obtain public services and infrastructure, such as water, electricity, and sanitation (see also section 7, Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation).
Organizations monitoring conditions in the Romani community and officials employed in schools with large Romani student populations unofficially reported that high illiteracy rates among Roma persisted. While education for children is compulsory through grade nine, school attendance and completion rates by Romani children remained low. In 2018 Silvo Mesojedec, the head of Novo Mesto’s Civil Initiative for Roma Issues, said fewer than 1 percent of inhabitants in Zabjak-Brezje (the country’s largest illegal Romani settlement with approximately 700 inhabitants) had finished primary school, and local NGOs estimated fewer than 20 percent of Romani children in the southeastern region of Dolenjska completed primary school.
The Center for School and Outdoor Education continued its 2016-22 project on Romani education, financed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the European Social Fund. The project helped Romani children succeed in the educational system through mentoring and support, including extracurricular activities and preschool education at community multipurpose centers. Although segregated classrooms are illegal, a number of Roma reported to NGOs their children attended segregated classes and that school authorities selected them disproportionately to attend classes for students with special needs. A local NGO estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the students attending special needs schools and classes were Romani children, despite the fact that Roma comprise less than 1 percent of the total population.
Local NGOs called on the government to adopt new measures to improve access to housing, education, and employment for Roma. The human rights ombudsman reported elderly Roma were among the most vulnerable individuals and needed additional care and support services. The average life expectancy of Roma is estimated to be 10 years lower than that of the rest of the population.
A government-established commission to safeguard the rights of Roma continued to function. The commission included representatives from the Romani community, municipalities, and the government.
The ethnic Albanian, Bosniak, Croatian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Serbian communities called on the government to recognize their communities officially in the constitution. In July the government established the Government Council for Ethnic Communities of Members of Former Yugoslav Nations in Slovenia as a consultative body to address issues faced by such ethnic groups living in the country.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in housing, employment, nationality laws, and access to government services. The government enforced such laws effectively, but societal discrimination was widespread.
The law considers crimes against LGBTI persons to be hate crimes and prohibits incitement to hatred based on sexual orientation.
The Ministry of Labor, Family, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities, as well as law enforcement authorities, recorded incidents, but they did not track the number of cases of violence against LGBTI persons. Local NGOs asserted that violence against LGBTI persons was prevalent but that victims often did not report such incidents to police.
In October unidentified assailants assaulted a prominent LGBTI activist in Murska Sobota. The victim sustained serious injuries and reported the attackers yelled homophobic slurs during the assault. The victim reported the incident to police, and the case was under investigation.
Maribor, the country’s second-largest city, held the country’s first pride parade outside of Ljubljana in June. Following the Maribor Pride Parade, an unknown assailant allegedly threw a rock at a parade participant, who sustained mild injuries. The victim reported the incident to police, and the case was under investigation.
In November an employee working at a popular nightclub in Maribor allegedly yelled homophobic slurs at an LGBTI individual and violently removed the individual from the nightclub. The victim sustained mild injuries and reported the incident to police. As of December, the case was under investigation.
While the law and implementing regulations establish procedures for legal gender recognition, LGBTI NGOs maintained the provisions are too general, subject to misinterpretation and arbitrary decisions, and insufficiently protect the rights to health, privacy, and physical integrity of transgender persons. For example, NGOs reported only two psychiatrists were authorized to provide documentation required for individuals to begin the process, which resulted in waiting times of up to a year.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
NGOs reported HIV-positive individuals often faced stigma and discrimination in access to health care. For example, Activists for the Rights of People Living with HIV and medical experts from the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Conditions reported that 90 percent of individuals living with HIV experienced discrimination in medical institutions due to their HIV status. In one case an HIV-positive patient said a dentist refused to provide dental services to him due to his HIV status. This patient filed a suit against the dentist, and the court ruled the dentist did discriminate against him due to his HIV-positive status.