Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and the government enforced it. During the year there were 458 rapes among the 1,937 sexual offenses reported to the authorities. The police and judicial authorities showed no reluctance to investigate and prosecute rape or sexual assaults, and most persons convicted received prison sentences of between five and 12 years. According to the most recent report by the director of public prosecutions, there were 131 prosecutions for sexual offenses in 2010, resulting in 60 convictions.
The law criminalizes domestic violence, but such violence continued to be a problem. The law authorizes prosecution of a violent family member and provides victims with safety orders that prohibit a person from engaging in violent actions or threats and orders that bar an offender from entering the family home for up to three years. Victims may apply for interim protection while courts process their cases. Violations of these orders are punishable by a fine of up to 1,900 euros ($2,470).
Sexual Harassment: The law obliges employers to prevent sexual harassment and prohibits dismissing an employee for making a complaint of sexual harassment. The Employment Equality Act 1998 obliges all employers to prevent sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment is considered as such when committed by a fellow worker, boss, client, customer or any other business contact. Under the act, an employer may also be held responsible if sexual harassment takes place outside the place of employment but the victim is treated differently at work because of rejection or acceptance of the harassment. The country’s Equality Authority is responsible for the preventing sexual harassment and is generally viewed as effective. However, the Equality Authority reported a 60 percent increase in allegations of suspected discrimination in 2010.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, and to have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Women had access to contraception and skilled attendance during childbirth. According to information compiled by international organizations, the maternal mortality rate in 2009 was approximately three deaths per 100,000 live births. The neonatal mortality rate was approximately four deaths per 1,000 live births. Women were not subject to coercive family planning. Men and women were diagnosed and treated equally for sexually transmitted infections. There were no legal barriers that prevented women from taking advantage of these services.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal rights as men, including rights under family law, property law, and in the judicial system. However, inequalities in pay and promotions persisted in both the public and private sectors. The law obliges employers to prevent sexual harassment and prohibits dismissing an employee for making a complaint of sexual harassment. The Equality Authority investigates claims of unfair dismissal and may require an employer to reinstate the employee or pay the employee up to 104 weeks' pay. Authorities effectively enforced the law in the cases of reported sexual harassment.