Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of adults and children regardless of gender, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. Penalties for conviction range from two to eight years’ imprisonment if the survivor is age 12 or older and 20 to 24 years’ imprisonment if the survivor is younger than age 12.
Conviction of abuse of a spouse or unmarried partner, regardless of gender, is punishable by one to two years’ imprisonment or longer if another crime is also applicable. The government did not effectively enforce domestic abuse law. Survivors often decided not to file charges or perpetrators fled arrest. Many cases of domestic violence were not reported to authorities. In addition according to NGO and media reports, many families preferred to settle rape allegations through informal community courts or privately through financial remuneration or marriage rather than through the formal judicial system.
NGOs stated domestic violence against women remained widespread and increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency due to restricted movement and confinement in place with male partners. International organizations and NGOs supporting the IDP population in Cabo Delgado Province reported concerns regarding rape, sexual exploitation and abuse, and other forms of GBV, including reports of GBV perpetrated by ISIS-Mozambique, and of women and girls fleeing from attacks or abductions. Human rights NGOs alleged some community leaders and individuals involved in humanitarian assistance programs engaged in the sexual exploitation of women IDPs in exchange for providing food and shelter support.
Government agencies and NGOs implemented public outreach campaigns to combat violence against women nationwide. In March the Maputo City Department of Gender, Children, and Social Action published a guide on reporting GBV in collaboration with MISA-Mozambique and women rights organizations. Police and NGOs worked together to combat domestic violence. The PRM operated special women and children’s units within police precincts that dealt with high numbers of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and violence-against-children cases.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C. NGOs and the government stated the incidence of FGM/C was low, but there were no reliable estimates of the numbers of girls and women subjected to FGM/C.
Other Forms of Gender-based Violence: The practice of “purification,” whereby a widow is obligated to have unprotected sex with a member of her deceased husband’s family, occurred, particularly in rural areas, despite campaigns against it.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment remained pervasive in business, government, schools, and society. By law any person in a position of authority convicted of sexual harassment of a subordinate may be sentenced to up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine.
Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.
The government provided some access to sexual and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception, for survivors of sexual violence. The government’s Health Sector Gender Inclusion Strategy 2018-2023 provides for policies, standards, and multisectoral coordination with partners and civil society to address GBV.
According to the 2011 Mozambique Demographic and Health Survey, the maternal mortality rate was 408 deaths per 100,000 births. The main factors were the lack of access to and availability of quality prenatal health care and emergency care of complications, such as hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, and sepsis during childbirth. The adolescent fertility rate (births per 1,000 girls and women between ages 15 and 19) in 2018 was 146. Women in poor communities, typically in remote, rural areas with limited access to health care, had a higher maternal mortality rate.
Couples and individuals had limited access to sexual and reproductive health information and family planning services. Additionally, social and cultural norms, including early marriage and childbearing, families with many children, and stigmatization of discussion of sexual topics with adolescents, hindered effective access. Although there is no legal requirement for a spouse or family member to authorize access to reproductive health services, women often relied on male partners to make health-care decisions for them. Lesbian and bisexual women reported discrimination in accessing reproductive and sexual health care. Women and girls displaced due to the violence in Cabo Delgado and climate-related disasters faced high barriers to access reproductive health services.
Although there were no legal barriers related to menstruation and access to menstruation hygiene that impacted women and girls’ ability to participate equally in society, in some areas sociocultural barriers regarding menstruation limited girls’ autonomy, and a lack of access to menstrual hygiene management in schools contributed to absenteeism.
In October 2021, 40 civil society organizations denounced violence and poor treatment of pregnant women in hospitals and called for accountability and investigation of reported abuses; however, as of September authorities had yet to hold any individual accountable for alleged abuses. During the year the Ministry of Health conducted a campaign against obstetric violence with civil society and other stakeholders.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women as for men; however, the government did not enforce the law effectively. The law requires equal pay for equal work and prohibits discrimination based on gender in hiring; however, the government did not always enforce the law. The law contains provisions that limit excessive physical work or night shift requirements during pregnancy. The law contains special provisions to protect women against abuse, although these provisions were rarely enforced.
Women experienced economic discrimination. Gaps in education and income between men and women remained high. In some regions, particularly in the north, women had limited access to the formal judicial system for enforcement of rights provided by the civil code and instead relied on customary law to settle disputes. Enforcement of laws that protect women’s rights to land ownership in the formal economy remained poor. Women typically could not inherit land under customary law.
Women with disabilities faced additional barriers to education, employment, and the judicial process, in part due to a lack of access to information and the government’s limited capacity to provide necessary accommodations. Women with disabilities were particularly vulnerable to GBV and other types of abuse.
Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on race or ethnicity, and the government enforced the law effectively.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is obtained by birth within the country or birth to at least one citizen parent outside the country. Failure to register a child’s birth may result in the child’s inability to attend school and may prevent a person from obtaining public documents, such as identity cards, passports, or “poverty certificates” that enable access to free health care and free secondary education. Birth registration was often delayed in rural areas. Cultural practice sometimes prevented a woman, especially in rural areas, from exercising her legal right to register a child without the presence of the child’s father.
Education: By law education is compulsory, universal, and free of tuition through primary school and grades seven through nine of secondary school. Nevertheless, school costs for supplies remained beyond the means of many families, especially in rural areas. According to the government Education Sector Development Plan, in 2018 only 49 percent of children completed primary school education. Girls had lower literacy and school completion rates. For example, only one in 10 girls in Nampula Province completed secondary school.
Child Abuse: The Child Protection Law provides for protection against physical and sexual abuse; removal of children from parents who are unable to protect, assist, and educate them; and juvenile courts to deal with matters of adoption, maintenance, and regulating parental power. Juvenile courts have wide discretion regarding sentencing, but the law requires a minimum of 16 to 20 years’ imprisonment for conviction of trafficking in persons.
Most child-abuse cases involved sexual or physical abuse. Sexual abuse in schools and in homes was a problem. NGOs remained concerned certain male teachers used their authority to coerce female students into sex. Orphans, girls working in domestic service, and other vulnerable children remained at high risk of abuse.
While the government stressed the importance of children’s rights and welfare, significant problems remained. On June 16, the government disseminated findings from the Mozambique Violence Against Children and Youth Survey, and in September the government convened stakeholders to begin developing a national action plan to combat child abuse. The government established a coordination mechanism at the national, provincial, and district levels to prevent and respond to child abuse; however, NGOs reported significant underreporting of child abuse cases due in part to a lack of trust in the legal referral aspect of the mechanism.
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: By law the minimum age of marriage for men and women is 18. In 2019 parliament outlawed marriage for children younger than age 18; the minimum age was previously 16 with parental consent. NGOs reported limited public awareness and poor enforcement of the law. Nevertheless, officials arrested and sentenced some individuals for involvement in child marriages. The government conducted awareness campaigns and trained some Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Action officials on gender equality and GBV.
The United Nations reported terrorists in Cabo Delgado Province kidnapped girls and subjected them to forced marriages.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age for consensual sex is 16 for boys and girls. The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. Authorities partially enforced the law, but exploitation of children and child trafficking remained a problem and worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to civil society organizations. Girls experienced sexual exploitation and human trafficking in bars, roadside clubs, and restaurants. NGOs stated trafficking of children was most prevalent in the provinces of Maputo Nampula, Sofala, Gaza, and Manica; in border towns; and at overnight stopping points along key transportation routes. Media reported the incidence of child sex trafficking increased during the year, citing rising living costs, poverty, lack of employment opportunities, and corruption.
Some NGOs provided health care, counseling, and vocational training to child survivors of trafficking, primarily girls.
Displaced Children: As of August the International Organization for Migration estimated 56 percent of the population displaced due to violence in Cabo Delgado were children, including more than 2,100 unaccompanied children. Civil society and international organizations reported displaced children often lacked shelter, food, and schooling. Several government agencies, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Action, conducted programs to provide health-care assistance and vocational education for orphans from HIV or AIDS and other vulnerable children.
The country has a small Jewish community. There were no reports of antisemitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report.
NGOs AlbiMoz and Amor a Vida, which advocates for persons with albinism, documented cases in which assailants kidnapped, maimed, or killed persons with albinism to sell their body parts to traditional healers. For example, in July police detained a man and his brother in Tete for allegedly trying to sell his three children with albinism to an intermediary who intended to sell their organs.
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression, or Sex Characteristics
Criminalization: There is no law criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults.
Violence against LGBTQI+ Persons: There were no media reports of bias-motivated attacks on LGBTQI+ persons; however, LGBTQI+ organizations reported some LGBTQI+ women were survivors of “corrective rape.” No hate-crime laws or other criminal justice mechanisms exist to aid in the prosecution of bias-motivated crimes against LGBTQI+ persons.
Discrimination: Antidiscrimination laws protected LGBTQI+ persons only from employment discrimination. The Fifth National Action Plan to Combat HIV/AIDS (2021-2025) denounced discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation for the first time.
Civil society organizations reported some discrimination in public medical facilities and schools. Medical staff sometimes refused to provide treatment or chastised LGBTQI+ individuals for their LGBTQI+ status when they sought treatment. Lesbian and bisexual women reported discrimination in accessing reproductive and sexual health care. NGOs stated discrimination against LGBTQI+ students was widespread and contributed to lower school completion rates among LGBTQI+ students.
There were reports of societal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including family members evicting LGBTQI+ individuals from their homes.
Availability of Legal Gender Recognition: The law does not provide for individuals to change their gender identity marker or name on legal and identifying documents to bring them into alignment with their gender identity.
Involuntary or Coercive Medical or Psychological Practices Specifically Targeting LGBTQI+ Individuals: Cases of “corrective” rape were reported by LGBTQI+ advocacy organizations, but not cases of unnecessary surgeries on intersex persons or other involuntary or coercive medical or psychological practices.
Restrictions of Freedom of Expression, Association, or Peaceful Assembly: LAMBDA continued to be unsuccessful in its effort to legally register as an NGO (see section 2.b.). In 2017 the Constitutional Court ruled LAMBDA and other groups could not be precluded from registration based on “morality” but did not direct the government to grant official recognition to LAMBDA. The organization resubmitted its application to the Administrative Tribunal, the highest jurisdiction for administrative matters, specifically seeking to compel the government to respond to its registration request. As of December the tribunal had not responded. Other LGBTQI+ organizations reported similar barriers to registration.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against citizens with disabilities; however, the law does not differentiate among physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities regarding access to education, employment, health services, information, communications, buildings, transportation, the judicial system, or other state services.
Persons with disabilities could not access education, health services, public buildings, and transportation on an equal basis with others. While the law recognizes the right to education for persons with disabilities, the government did not effectively protect against discrimination and exclusion of persons with disabilities. Although the law specifies accessibility standards for public institutions and private institutions that serve the public, public buildings are often not accessible to persons with disabilities. The law allows individuals to request that the government provide information in an accessible format, but public institutions were not generally equipped to do so. Through a partnership with TV Surdo, the government incorporated sign language interpreters in the broadcasting of some official statement. There are no laws providing for access to transportation for persons with disabilities, and NGOs reported that individuals were often charged for transporting their wheelchairs when using public transportation. NGOs also reported that persons with disabilities faced discrimination and harassment at airports.
NGOs alleged that a lack of access to appropriate services led some individuals to chain or imprison relatives with psychosocial disabilities to supposedly keep them safe. Women and girls with disabilities remained vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse, and NGOs reported such cases rarely led to arrest and prosecution. For instance, according to a local civil society organization, some employees at the state-run Infulene Psychiatric Hospital in Maputo who physically or verbally abused patients did not face criminal liability after complaints were filed.
Discrimination in private-sector and government employment, access to health care, and the provision of other services was common. Observers often cited unequal access to employment as one of the biggest problems. Doctors reported many families abandoned family members with disabilities at the country’s only psychiatric hospital. The Mozambican Association of Persons with Disabilities reported access to equipment, such as wheelchairs, was a challenge due to lengthy and complicated import procedures.
The government trained some health workers in sign language. Children with disabilities attended school through the secondary level at a lower rate than other children, and NGOs reported that some public and private schools did not accept students with disabilities leading some parents to homeschool children with disabilities such as autism.
Media and civil society organizations reported persons with disabilities faced barriers to participating in political processes.
In December the CNDH established a unit focused on persons with disabilities’ matters.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
The government denounced violence against persons with albinism. Courts tended to sentence those convicted of the kidnapping and murder of persons with albinism more harshly than those convicted of similar crimes that did not involve persons with albinism. According to the CNDH, approximately 114 persons with albinism disappeared since 2014, and authorities opened criminal cases against 55 individuals accused of involvement in these disappearances.
Both civil society and authorities reported violence against the elderly happened, along with complaints of abandonment and mistreatment. During the year the government issued its National Action Plan for the Elderly 2022-2029 to reduce discrimination and protect the rights of the elderly.
HIV-related stigma and discrimination, social exclusion, and abuse were prevalent, including in employment, housing, access to education, and health care. Stigma and discrimination prevented some individuals from using HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment services. Reports continued of many women expelled from their homes and abandoned by their husbands and relatives because they were HIV-positive. Family or community members accused some women widowed by AIDS of being witches who purposely infected their husbands to acquire belongings; as retribution, they deprived the women of all possessions. The government trained health workers on conducting public awareness campaigns to reduce stigma and discrimination against persons with HIV or AIDS.