Rape and Domestic Violence: The law makes rape, including spousal rape, illegal, with a penalty of three to 10 years’ imprisonment for violations. The government generally enforced the law when the victim chose to press charges and if the cases were not settled out of court through mediation. The law provides for criminal penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment in cases of domestic violence by a spouse or by a person other than the spouse. The judicial system prosecuted persons accused of committing gender-based violence, including violence towards women.
Gender-based violence, including domestic violence, continued to be a problem. According to preliminary data from NGOs and media reports, in the first six months of the year, there were 14 deaths related to domestic violence.
The law allows third parties to file domestic violence reports. The government encouraged survivors of violence to file complaints with the appropriate authorities and offered the victim protection against the abuser. The government’s Commission for Equality and Women’s Rights operated 39 safe houses and 28 emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence and maintained an around-the-clock telephone service. Safe-house services included food, shelter, health assistance, and legal assistance. The government-sponsored Mission against Domestic Violence conducted an awareness campaign, trained health professionals, proposed legislation to improve legal assistance to survivors, and negotiated protocols with local authorities to assist survivors.
In March the government began a new training program for Public Administration workers on domestic violence to improve coordination among officials in different areas, such as health, law enforcement, and justice. The training courses were scheduled to continue through June 2023.
In June the government announced a new plan to reinforce the prevention and fight against domestic violence. Since then, the government launched social alert mechanisms and support to victims of domestic violence through an awareness campaign #EuSobrevivi (#ISurvived), an advice pamphlet, and information on local assistance contacts. Campaign materials were broadcast in the media and posted in police stations, hospitals, courts, citizens services shops, public transportation, gas stations, among other public locations.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C is a crime punishable under the law. The State Secretariat for Citizenship and Equality reported that some immigrant communities practiced FGM/C on young girls, particularly among Bissau-Guinean immigrants. According to the government’s Healthy Practices Project to prevent and combat FGM/C, the country flagged 101 cases of possible FGM/C in 2020, down from 129 in 2019. Since authorities began collecting FGM/C statistics in 2014, there have been only three confirmed cases of FGM/C performed in the country. The remaining cases were performed in the immigrants’ countries of origin.
On October 1, the government allocated 60,000 euros ($69,000) to nine civil society organizations for new projects to prevent and combat FGM/C. The projects focus on encouraging girls and women to act against female genital mutilation.
On January 8, a Sintra court sentenced Rugui Djalo, a 21-year-old Bissau-Guinean citizen residing in the country, to three years in prison for the crime of genital mutilation of her then 18-month-old daughter. Djalo was the first person to be brought to trial in the country for the crime of FGM/C. In July the court of appeals suspended the sentence for a period of four years on the grounds that taking the mother away from the child would punish the daughter a second time and that the censure of the practice of FGM/C and the threat of imprisonment already achieved the objective of deterring the practice. The court concluded that the mother travelled to Guinea-Bissau and requested the procedure but did not actually perform FGM/C herself.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a crime, with penalties ranging from one to eight years in prison. If perpetrated by a superior in the workplace, the penalty is up to two years in prison, or more in cases of “aggravated coercion.”
The Commission on Equality in the Workplace and in Employment, composed of representatives of the government, employers’ organizations, and labor unions, examines but does not adjudicate complaints of sexual harassment. From January to April, the Inspectorate General of Finance received 28 reports of sexual harassment, and the Working Conditions Authority registered seven infractions during the same period.
Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities (see Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), above, for additional information).
Vulnerable populations had the ability to provide informed consent to medical treatment affecting reproductive health, including for sterilization.
The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence; emergency contraception was available as part of clinical management of rape.
Discrimination: The constitution and the law provide women full legal equality with men, including under family, religious, personal status, and nationality laws as well as laws related to labor, property, inheritance, employment, access to credit, and owning or managing businesses or property, and the government enforced the law.
Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination
The constitution bans discrimination and provides legal protection against discriminatory acts and practices. This protection covers discrimination on the grounds of ancestry, sex, race, age, disability, language, territory of origin, religion, political or ideological convictions, education, economic situation, social condition or sexual orientation, and any other reason. The scope of the country’s law against discrimination is wider than EU law. There is a law against hate crimes, including murder and assault motivated by racial or religious hatred, genocide, racial and religious discrimination and related intolerance, insults on grounds of religion and profanation of cemeteries.
On March 24, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatovic, released a memorandum to address “the increasing level of racism and the persistence of related discrimination” in the country. In the memorandum the commissioner noted a number of assaults during 2020 “on people of African descent and other persons perceived as foreigners, as well as against antiracist and other civil society activists” in the country. According to the memorandum, the incidents culminated in July 2020 with the murder of Bruno Cande, a Portuguese citizen of African descent, who was shot and killed in Lisbon. His killer reportedly shouted racist slurs before killing Cande. On June 29, a Lisbon court convicted Evaristo Marinho, 76, of homicide aggravated by racial hatred and sentenced him to 22 years and nine months in prison for killing Cande. Marinho, a veteran who served during the country’s colonial war in Angola between 1963 and 1974, confessed to the murder at the trial.
In her March 24 memorandum, Commissioner Mijatovic noted that, in the same period, “racist slurs and swastikas appeared on the walls of several public buildings, including schools, and on the walls of premises of certain NGOs, in particular SOS Racismo” and that the organization’s president, together with other persons belonging to civil society organizations, received death threats and warnings to leave the country within 48 hours in response to their public stance and work against racism. The threats reportedly also targeted trade unions and three members of the country’s parliament, and in August, a “Ku Klux Klan-style” demonstration took place in front of the SOS Racismo premises.
The government estimated the Romani population to be between 40,000 and 50,000 persons. Many Roma continued to live in encampments consisting of barracks, shacks, or tents. Many settlements were in areas isolated from the rest of the population and often lacked basic infrastructure, such as access to drinking water, electricity, or waste-disposal facilities. Some localities constructed walls around Romani settlements. Media reports of police harassment, misconduct, and abuses against Roma continued.
The March 24 Mijatovic memorandum also stated that “Roma have long been targeted by racist hate speech and continue to be routinely confronted with discriminatory practices, such as service denials, throughout Portugal” and that “widespread hostility has at times resulted in incidents of mob violence against Roma communities.” The memorandum noted, as an example, a series of incidents in 2017 that included threats, arson, and attacks against property targeting the Roma community that had occurred in a locality in the south of the country.
In some localities the government provided integration and access to services for the Roma, including vaccination campaigns, monitoring of prenatal care, scholarship programs, assistance in finding employment, and a mediation program staffed by ethnic Romani mediators in the Office of the High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue.
The Commission for Equality and Against Racial Discrimination (CICDR) is the dedicated body to combat racial discrimination. Its mission under law is to prevent and prohibit racial discrimination and to penalize actions that result in the violation of fundamental rights or in the refusal or constraint of the exercise of economic, social, or cultural rights by any person based on race, ethnic origin, color, nationality, ancestry, or territory of origin. According to its annual report, CICDR received 655 complaints of discrimination in 2020, an increase of 50.2 percent from 2019, the vast majority related to alleged discrimination on social media (319 complaints, or 48.7 percent). CICDR explained that the increase might reflect greater social awareness of the problem of racial and ethnic discrimination as well as a growing knowledge and confidence in the commission and in the mechanisms available for the exercise of rights.
In June the government released its new national action plan to combat racism and discrimination. The plan outlined 10 areas of action, including information and knowledge for a nondiscriminatory society; education; higher education; work and employment; housing; health and social action; justice and security; participation and representation; sports; and media and digital.
The media reported that a UN working group on Peoples of African Ancestry was “surprised and shocked” by reports on police brutality in the country. The group arrived in the country in late November at the invitation of the government to gather data on racial discrimination towards persons of African descent. During a press conference on December 6, the delegation said it was surprised by the amount of police intervention in African communities and by the prevalence of racial insults in public places. The group stated that what it observed “does not align with the rules of a country that claims to be open and progressive.”
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country’s territory and from one’s parents. Birth registration is free and mandatory and was not denied or provided on a discriminatory basis.
Child Abuse: The constitution provides for basic rights of the child, and laws protect children against, among others, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical and emotional neglect, and the government generally enforced the law. The Association for Victim Support reported 1,816 crimes against children younger than 18 in 2020. According to the 2018 Annual Internal Security Report (but not in the 2019 report), Romani parents exploited minor children in labor trafficking through forced street begging. A child-abuse database was accessible to law enforcement and child protection services. The government prohibits convicted child abusers from work or volunteer activities involving contact with children. It also carried out awareness campaigns against child abuse and sexual exploitation.
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 18 for women and men, but both sexes may marry at 16 with the consent of both parents exercising parental authority, or a guardian, or, in default of the latter, a court decision.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Statutory rape is a crime with penalties ranging up to 10 years in prison, and authorities enforced the law. The minimum age for legal consensual sex is 16. The law prohibits child pornography. Penalties range up to eight years in prison.
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.
Estimates placed the Jewish population at 3,000 to 4,000 persons.
In January a contestant in the country’s version of the “Big Brother” reality show was expelled for repeatedly making Nazi salutes in front of his housemates. Helder Teixeira, 39, made the gesture and was repeatedly told to stop by the other contestants. Teixeira laughed and proceeded to mimic the Nazi march with his arm raised in the air, repeating the gesture days later. Following these episodes, the “Big Brother” host called all house members together and played a video of a Holocaust survivor talking about the Nazi persecution minorities faced during World War II, including Jews, Roma, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community. After telling Teixeira that joking about the Holocaust risks downplaying or trivializing the subject and that the gesture symbolized “millions of deaths,” the host expelled Teixeira from the show.
On February 7, Rodrigo Sousa Castro, one of the military generals who led the country’s 1974 revolution, posted an anti-Semitic tweet suggesting that Jewish financial domination facilitated Israel’s success in vaccinating for COVID-19. Castro tweeted that “the Jews, as they dominate global finance, bought and have all the vaccines they wanted. It’s historical revenge of sorts. And I won’t say anything more or the Zionist bulldogs will jump.” In response, Israel’s ambassador to Portugal tweeted, “As a proud Zionist bulldog, I can promise that if Israel develops a cure for COVID-19, Colonel Sousa e Castro will have access to it if needed.” Sousa Castro came under immediate fire by numerous public authorities, including the Lisbon and Porto Israeli Communities, the Portuguesa Association for Israel, and the Social Democratic Party who adopted a draft resolution in parliament on February 9 that stated, “Portugal is seeing the propagation of anti-Semitic discourse with serious insinuations.” To be an advocate of the 1974 revolution, it added, “means to honor its values.” Sousa Castro later removed the tweet, stating he had committed an “error” by engaging in a “generalization” that was not “correct” and was “abusive,” adding that “many will have the right to have been offended.”
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government generally enforced the law effectively. The law mandates access to public and private buildings, information, and communication for persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities can access education, health services, public buildings, and transportation on an equal basis with others. There are laws requiring such access, however, access is not always available. The Portuguese Association for the Disabled (APD) reported receiving daily complaints about lack of accessibility for the disabled, such as buildings without ramps, excessively narrow and uneven sidewalks, transportation without elevator access, and public buses without wheelchair lifts. Urban public transport buses are equipped with lift platforms for seats, but these are not always operational. During election periods, the APD receives complaints about polling stations that are inaccessible to the disabled. The head of the APD told media in September that some progress has been made in recent years, but that improvements happen at a very slow pace.
Children with disabilities attended school through secondary education at the same rate as other children, together with their nondisabled peers.
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The constitution and the law prohibit discrimination by state and nonstate actors based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including with respect to essential goods and services such as housing, employment, and access to government services such as health care. The government generally enforced such laws effectively. The law allows transgender adults to update their names and gender markers in the civil registry to reflect their gender identities without having to submit a medical certificate. Transgender minors who are 16 or 17 can also update their names and gender markers in the civil registry to reflect their gender identities, but they must present a clinical report.